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Sunday 30 June 2013

Leveson – More Charter Excuses

Another supposed error from Lord Justice Leveson has surfaced today, and this should surprise no-one, because the paper concerned, the Mail On Sunday, has given the game away by also publishing a jaw-droppingly dishonest editorial which lays bare the rationale behind the exercise. What is being attempted is to get the press’ Royal Charter over the finish line first.
Leveson gagged me over police smears: Whistleblower tried to expose Met dirty tricks but was stopped by Press inquiry” proclaims the headline as the plight of Peter Tickner is outlined. But the story does not stand up: first Leveson is accused of gagging him, then we read “senior figures within the Met Police prevented him from ‘speaking a truth that no one wanted to hear’”.

How so? “The judge made his ruling after objections by the Metropolitan Police”. Ah, so not unlike all the objections from Counsel representing newspapers like, oh I dunno, the Mail titles, making sure that Leveson stuck to his terms of reference and screaming blue murder if he looked as if he might be tempted to stray from his remit. Oh, and Tory rent-a-quote MP Rob Wilson’s been sticking his bugle in, too.

Thus we arrive at the editorial, and the blatant giveaway. “Royal Charter set up by the Press is the ideal answer as Leveson fades away” says someone who has entered Ron Hopeful mode. And there’s more: “Since no agreement has yet been reached on how to implement the Leveson recommendations, these developments strengthen the case for politicians to re-examine their positions”.

And here comes the brass neck special: “The newspaper industry’s proposed Royal Charter is a very radical and severe set of reforms which offers thoughtful and workable remedies to the major public concerns about the press”. Yeah, right. Re-heating the old PCC is “radical and severe”. Like heck it is. And there has been agreement on Leveson – between all three major political parties.

The editorial concludes “Given the growing doubts surrounding Leveson, and the need for action, this seems to be the best available course”. The only doubts are the ones manufactured in papers like the Mail to try desperately to stop properly independent press regulation. But let’s pop back to Peter Tickner, and his assertions that senior cops were using the press to smear their colleagues.

Mr Tickner also wanted to show how information about a £3million Metropolitan Police contract with former Commissioner Ian Blair’s skiing friend Andrew Miller and his business, Impact Plus, had been leaked by a senior officer to the media”. Hmmm, I wonder who would object to that one being discussed. Maybe the paper that used the information and lost a libel action to Miller as a result?

That paper was the Daily Mail. You really couldn’t make this up.

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