Leveson urges new press rules

Lord Justice Leveson has recommended further press regulation, underpinned by law, in his long-awaited report.

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Press has 'wreaked havoc' with lives of innocent people

Lord Justice Leveson condemns decades of "outrageous" behaviour by newspapers and suggests the press has ignored its own code of conduct on too many occasions.

In his report, he writes:

There have been too many times when, chasing the story, parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote, simply did not exist.

This has caused real hardship, and on occasion, wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and liberties have been disdained.

This is not just the famous but ordinary members of the public, caught up in events (many of them truly tragic) far larger than they could cope with but made much, much worse by press behaviour that, at times, can only be described as outrageous.

– Leveson report

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Leveson 'clears Hunt' over BSkyB bid

by - Deputy Political Editor
The former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was cleared in Lord Justice Leveson's report. Credit: PA Wire

On the role of politicians, Lord Justice Leveson says they "have had or developed too close a relationship with the press in a way which has not been in the public interest".

But he clears Jeremy Hunt - the then Culture Secretary, in the way he acted over News Corp's bid to buy BSkyB.

"Mr Hunt immediately put in place robust systems to ensure the remaining stages of the bid would be handled with fairness, impartiality and transparency, all in line with his quasi-judicial obligations.

"In every respect bar one, the bid was commendably handled."

He does suggest Mr Hunt's special adviser, who resigned, should not have been put in the position he was, given his closeness to the News Corp's lobbyist Frederic Michel.

Leveson report in brief

by - Political Editor
  • Much as expected. A new independent press regulator, overseen by Ofcom, the body that regulates broadcasters.
  • Anyone who refuses to join in the new system would be regulated by Ofcom anyway.
  • A new arbitration system to allow people easier redress against newspapers.
  • Leveson more or less totally clears the police.
  • He suggests politicians are much too close to the press generally, but avoids criticising anyone directly.
  • Jeremy Hunt is cleared over the BSkyB bid.

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Leveson: Jeremy Hunt acted 'commendably' over BSkyB bid

Former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Lord Justice Leveson has said that the former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt behaved "commendably" over the BSkyB bid, and places blame on his special adviser Adam Smith.

In his report, he writes: "Mr Hunt immediately put in place robust systems to ensure the remaining stages of the bid would be handled with fairness, impartiality and transparency, all in line with his quasi-judicial obligations."

"In every respect bar one, the bid was commendably handled."

Mr Hunt was accused of getting too close to News Corporation after the company released a series of emails exchanges between its chief lobbyist Frédéric Michel and Jeremy Hunt's office.

Adam Smith later resigned over the issue.

Leveson highlights aims of new press body

Lord Justice Leveson said a new independent regulatory system underpinned by legislation would:

  • Enshrine, for the first time, a legal duty on Government to protect freedom of the press.
  • Provide an independent process to recognise the new self-regulatory body and reassure the public that the basic requirement of independence and effectiveness were met...in the report I recommend this is done by Ofcom.
  • By recognising the new body, it would validate its standards code.

Leveson recommendations 'cannot be characterised as statutory regulation'

Lord Justice Leveson's report into press standards has been published. Credit: PA Wire

Lord Justice Leveson said in his report: "It is essential that there should be legislation to underpin the independent self-regulatory system and facilitate its recognition in legal processes.

"The legislation would not establish a body to regulate the press; it would be up to the press to come forward with their own body that meets the criteria laid down.

"The legislation would not give any right to Parliament, to Government, or to any regulatory (or other) body to prevent newspapers from publishing any material whatsoever.

"This is not, and cannot be characterised as, statutory regulation of the press. What is proposed here is independent regulation of press organised by the press with a statutory verification process."

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