Leveson protects a free press

Lord Soley

I disagree with my colleague Baroness Deech. The Leveson proposals, with or without a Royal Charter, contain clear protections for press freedom not least protection from excessive damages in court cases just as my Bill did back in 1990.
Neither the original investigation of MP’s expenses nor the present case would have been stopped by Levesons proposals or mine. What is so frustrating about this debate is that the press insists on regulation for everyone but themselves. Press regulation is a delicate balance just as it is for a Parliamentary democracy where the electorate is the final judge of MP’s but no regulation at all failed for MP’s and for the press. Leveson got it right in my view.
I listened to former Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher on the Today programme last Friday complaining that all regulation was wrong and that politicians should not decide such matters BUT it is the system that the press are proposing that allows politicians to be members! Leveson excludes them.
Finally what is this outrageous claim that Gallagher and others make that press freedom is at risk? How about reality? The News of the World was a 170 year old newspaper that did a real service to investigative journalism throughout its time. Then the crisis hits. The newspaper is closed but the chairman and chief executive keep their jobs! Since when have two men’s jobs been more valuable than a newspaper with a circulation of nearly 3 million? It has now been replaced by the Sun on Sunday with a circulation of just 1.8 million.

7 comments for “Leveson protects a free press

  1. 07/04/2014 at 6:17 am

    Your Lordship,
    I completely agree. Leveson did get it right. The latest acts by the telegraph on implying the MH370 was a suicide run on page 1 is but the latest of atrocities by those ‘claiming’ freedom of the press whilst what i see as legal hiding behind the term ‘well-placed sources’.
    The issue that people like Galagher and MacGregor fear in my view is accountability. They have been so protected behind a shroud of non-accountability that their nightmare is that the wronged people will knock on their door with legal support and depositing dozens upon dozens of multi million pound claims. It is in my view the consequence of journalism getting replaced by the need for circulation. Journalism has for too long become a field where quantity wins over quality. The ethics side in the Leveson report gives a clear path where journalism must be held accountable. When these editors have to deliver that part, their income equation goes straight out of the window. So are these editors in fear of freedom of in fear of income?

  2. Baroness Deech
    Baroness Deech
    07/04/2014 at 10:32 am

    It’s LevEson by the way – our President of the Queen’s Bench Division. The Telegraph expose of expenses started with a stolen or leaked disc, and was probably also a breach of Data Protection Law. Would that not have led to a complaint, or at least fear of one? Leveson’s recommendations are not what we have got now, but something else entirely.

  3. maude elwes
    07/04/2014 at 11:37 am

    @LS:

    That is not what I read and believe. A free press is paramount to a civilised society. It is the leveler we all rely on.

    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3504/uk-free-press-leveson

    • tizres
      07/04/2014 at 1:54 pm

      Hmmm, Levellers, Diggers, Ranters…

  4. Honoris Causa
    07/04/2014 at 12:37 pm

    The News of the World was a 170 year old newspaper that did a real service to investigative journalism throughout its time.

    It destroyed my young life, I can tell you, on what now seem to be trivial matters in extremis. Dont school teachers sunbathe, just?

    I am delighted it closed down, and repudiate the opinion of the former member for Hammersmith.

  5. Lord Soley
    Lord Soley
    07/04/2014 at 1:01 pm

    Quite right Baroness Deech – I must learn to check names as well as spelling. My apologies.
    On the issue of the ‘stolen’ disc there would be a very strong case in any of the codes I have seen (including the one that has just failed so badly) for a public interest defence. There could have been a challenge under existing legislation but there wasn’t. Leveson spelt out the necessity to protect investigative journalism – something that I have always strongly supported.

  6. Honoris Causa
    09/04/2014 at 4:21 pm

    Investigative journalism is quite one thing; salacious gossip about the lives of law abiding people picked up by hanging round the divorce courts of the 1950s quite another. It is only the title that has gone. That kind of thinking is what sells newspapers, and maintains viewer ratings for TV programmes.

    Is Sky not owned by the same people? They’ve just gone digital. Why bother with hard copy when people can view it or read it right there and then?

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