Anyone wondering why the Super Soaraway Currant Bun published the photos of a naked Prince Harry now knows the answer. Like soldiers who know they are certain to die in battle, Rupe’s downmarket troops had decided to take out as many of the opposition while they could. And they had done so because they already knew what Lord Justice Leveson had in store for them.
Because, thanks to the deeply subversive Guardian, we know more or less exactly what he has in store, and it will make grim reading for editors and proprietors across the Fourth Estate. The title of the piece says it all: “Leveson rulings expected to include ‘excoriating’ criticism of the press”. And that includes the Murdoch empire, especially over the Milly Dowler case.
And, as the man said, there’s more: “notices went out to all newspaper groups warning them that he [Leveson] anticipates making rulings on everything from privacy to self-regulation ... executives are anxiously awaiting a more damaging Rule 13 notices containing specific criticism of individual titles and witnesses”. And the extent of those Rule 13 notices?
“Leveson's Rule 13 notice is understood to be around 100 pages long with a five page summary listing the areas Leveson is intending to make critical pronouncements on, according to sources ... these are expected to contain explicit adverse comment”. According to those who have already seen that notice, Leveson has “thrown the ‘kitchen sink’ at the newspaper industry”.
Rule 13 is all to do with giving those who face criticism the right to reply before publication. But this revelation is really about answering not only why the Sun went totally batshit last week, but also why there has been so much briefing against Leveson of late, going as high as Michael “Oiky” Gove, former Murdoch hack turned apologist for anything the tabs care to get up to.
What is now clear is that all those references to the Inquiry exerting a “chilling” influence on “press freedom” were just cheap attempts to discredit an Inquiry that was about to home in on all the abuses of privacy, spurious claims of public interest defence (as with the Harry photos), failing to give prior notice of publication, general falsehood and misinformation, and other failings of self-regulation.
And it won’t just be the Murdoch press looking at censure: the Mirror and Express are mentioned in the Guardian piece, which notes that the now discredited PCC will inevitably depart the scene. Far from being in any position of strength, the editors and their publishers have been found wanting by an Inquiry that has meticulously and forensically laid bare their failings.
As such, it will be hard to resist the Inquiry’s conclusions, other than to bluster.