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Friday 23 November 2012

Leveson Is Served (32)


As notice has duly been given that Lord Justice Leveson’s report into the culture, practices and ethics of the press will be published on Thursday November 29, and that the report is available for pre-order, with a summary also available at time of publication for those unwilling to shell out over £200, it can be concluded that the content has already been finalised.

So now the barrage of sometimes threatening behaviour by the Fourth Estate has moved from trying to bully Leveson into changing the content – a supremely pointless exercise – to trying to bully MPs into rejecting it. And the bullying and threats have come together in an attempt by Associated Newspapers (publishers of the Daily Mail, to no surprise) to force the issue.

On Associated’s behalf, Peter Wright, former editor of the Mail On Sunday, has written to all Tory MPs – presumably Labour and Lib Dem ones were deemed not worthy of arm-twisting – telling them “I am taking the liberty of enclosing a copy of last Friday's Daily Mail. In case you missed it due to last week's recess”. This is the issue which dedicated eleven pages to smearing Leveson advisor David Bell.

Wright goes on “it contains a special investigation into the links between Leveson inquiry assessor Sir David Bell, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism behind the defaming of Lord McAlpine, and the various vociferous lobby groups calling for statutory regulation of the press”. Yes, lobbying against the preferences of the Mail is “vociferous”. Not like Wright’s own concluding remarks.

I fully understand you will have your own views on the issues surrounding press regulation. All I would hope is that, with Lord Justice Leveson's report now imminent, you find time to read this investigation, and give it some consideration before deciding your response” he tells those Tory MPs. That’s code for “we know where you live” and a threat not to stray into the wrong voting lobby.

While that level of nastiness is only to be expected, a novel side-show has been provided by Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, who superbly demonstrates Olbermann’s Dictum (“the right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood”) as he whines about politicians contacting him to express displeasure at the behaviour of his writers. Like they have done for decades. Pull the other one.

Nelson, previously a Screws columnist, has also penned a Telegraph article in which he makes comparisons with Bahrain – a welcome change from Zimbabwe – and then says that we should “declare a truce”. Oh what a giveaway! Here is an admission, however inadvertent, that the press believes it is at war. Thus the convocation of paranoia, threats and bullying was completed.

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