Lord Justice Leveson, it was alleged, had seen a major report showing that the real culprits in the business of hacking, blagging and other illegal information gathering were not the poor, downtrodden victims of the Fourth Estate, but dastardly major corporates who were getting away Scot free. And what had he done with the report? He’d just ignored it – or maybe even suppressed it.
Such was the story fed to an increasingly sceptical public by a press that is turning to increasingly desperate means in order to stamp out the distinct possibility that they will soon be subject to properly independent regulation. There would be no press veto on appointments to the new body, and no more suitably malleable Tory peers wheeled in as figureheads, as with the discredited PCC.
Moreover, the list of potential appointees to the new regulator is the stuff of nightmares to many editors: never mind Brian Cathcart of Hacked Off, there is now talk of NHS chief David Nicholson fancying a punt at the job – after years of being remorselessly slagged off by the Mail and Sun. Alastair Campbell – who, after all, served as a hack for many years – is another name causing distress.
Well, today the major report talked of by so many in the Fourth Estate as the smoking gun that proves not only that they were mere bit parts in the drama, but also shows Leveson to be behaving improperly, has now been released by the folks at Exaro News, the place that majors in the sort of investigative journalism that all too many papers have given up on.
And what does the press think about that? I mean, as Cathcart and Evan Harris pointed out in a piece for Hacked Off yesterday, they were making enough fuss about it before the report was released. Well, there’s a thing: they’re saying nothing. The Mail is kicking the NHS (again), and telling readers it’s not racist to send a van saying “go home” around areas where there’s a large Asian population.
The Sun is also sneering at the NHS (the smear by association is because of problems with the non-emergency 111 number) and discussing the Twitter threats made to campaigners and MPs. The Express is indignant that people not born in the UK might be mending our roads. The Maily Telegraph is also scaring people about the NHS, so plenty in the kitty for hacks to go private, then.
So why aren’t they all rejoicing that the report they claimed Leveson “suppressed” has finally been published, and without redactions? Ah well. That would be because it shows the typical solicitor or accountant use of Private Investigators was to pursue debts. And the two blue-chips named, BT and British Gas, are there because they got hacked, not that they had others hacked.
It’s just another attempt to shout “look over there”. And it’s another abysmal failure.