Govt Defends The Media As Leveson 2 And Press Control Plans Scrapped

It's not the kind of thing trendy millennials want to hear on social media as they rant about the "mainstream media," but the Government has ruled out Leveson 2 and Section 40 -- and anyone who knows just a little bit about the media will welcome the move.

It's a victory of common sense against those who have no idea what they are campaigning for as they ask the media to wear a hair shirt for generations to come.

Just to clarify, Leveson 2 was set to look at the relationship between the police and the press. Section 40 was a ridiculous proposed clause to a British law. Let's look at them one at a time.

Leveson 2 is unnecessary for a very good reason. We've already have the first enquiry, which saw journalists put behind bars and The News of the World closed. Let's be clear -- some terrible malpractice took place. People had their phones hacked to discover stories. This should never have taken place, and the courts have dealt with those who broke the law. 

If you need another reason why Leveson 2 is not required, take a look at Operation Elveden. The police has already probed inappropriate relationships between the media and law enforcement -- as well as other public authority workers, such as prison officers -- to punish those who have sold information they should not have. There were 90 arrests and 8 convictions. 

The question isn't whether you think the press has a case to answer. The question is: what would happen in Leveson 2 that hasn't already been addressed?

Now let's deal with Section 40. This is the most stupid clause ever added to a British law. In short, it states that a newspaper that doesn't belong to an officially acknowledged press regulator should face both sets of legal fees in a libel action, even if it wins. 

Let's give that a quick second to settle in. A paper could run a story someone doesn't like, be proven to be right, and yet still pay both sets of fees. Mark that out of ten, as I say to my kids, and anything above a three is generous. 

The subtle point here is that an officially registered press regulator has to accept recognition by Royal Charter. Now academics can argue the associated points all day about who is actually the top person regulating the press here. There is an argument it is the Queen -- there is an argument it is parliament. The discussions over who is mostly in charge here miss the point. The UK press will never accept being regulated by the Queen, nor parliament. These are the very institutions they are in business to hold to account. 

Just ask yourself: do you think the Washington Post of Watergate fame would accept being regulated by the US President?

It's an absolute non-starter. And so too is even thinking about making papers pay both sets of legal fees just for opposing this intrusion on press freedom.

Let's be clear. Malpractice was spotted, illegal activity led to arrests, and custodial sentence and the closure of a newspaper. That is not to say nothing bad will ever happen again because journalists are under such pressure to break a big story, they can be temped to act illegally,

However, a Royal Charter is not the answer, and trying to force papers to accept it through a threat over paying both legal fees, even if you win, is clear blackmail that the current Government has seen through. 

As to having another enquiry into something the police have already looked into -- words fail me.

There are people out there who want to either silence the press or make journalists wear that proverbial hair shirt for other peoples' past transgressions. Yesterday the Government stood up to them and made an announcement that makes so much common sense. It's very refreshing. 

Next story loading loading..