Everyone else that wishes to do so has produced their apologia for the behaviour of the Fourth Estate and wrongly called independent press regulation “state control”, so the loathsome Toby Young (that’s the Hon Toby Daniel Moorsom Young, folks) has inevitably joined in. “Quelle surprise. Jailbird Chris Huhne wants state regulation of the press!” is the headline, as he tells us to “look over there”.
Yes, suddenly press regulation, which, lest we forget, is already supposed to be in place – via the utterly discredited PCC – is now all about the former Lib Dem MP, who has had the effrontery to start earning a living again, by writing for the deeply subversive Guardian. Huhne has also committed the heinous sin of offering his opinion, which has caused Tobes deep and lasting offence.
Then he falls into the same trap as all the others: “the press is already setting up an independent regulator in the form of Ipso”. As I’ve already pointed out, independent it is not: IPSO would be run by PressBof, whose head is Lord Black of Brentwood. It’s a big ask for independence from press and politicians when he’s a Tory peer who sits on the board of the Telegraph group.
And, as the man said, there’s more: “And unlike the PCC, Ipso will have real teeth, being able to enforce its rulings via legally-binding contracts. Henceforth, publishers that fall foul of the regulator will have to publish prominent apologies and pay fines of up to a £1 million”. Tobes may believe this, and if so, he really is a fool. IPSO will be the press continuing to mark its own homework.
Then comes the usual snark at those who have supported Hacked Off: “It's bad enough when the argument for state control of the press is made by Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, both of whom have a personal axe to grind thanks to tabloid exposés of their wrongdoing”. Wrong again Tobes, Hugh and Steve have decided to speak up for the victims. Unlike Tobes, they have chosen to Do The Right Thing.
Had Young actually studied the differences between the cross-party Royal Charter, and the one put forward by the press, he would know that the reason the press’ version was thrown out was because it did not meet the Leveson criteria – it would not lead to a truly independent regulator. The £1 million fines would happen about as often as Robert Maxwell paid out on that £1 million Mirror bingo prize.
And the bad behaviour would continue as before, as Tom Rowland has noted today. The Daily Mail has attracted 24 complaints in two months, in most cases getting away with just withdrawing or amending the online version of the story. The falsehood and misinformation includes a Zelo Street favourite, the “pupils denied water during Ramadan because SCARY MUSLIMS” one (that was total crap).
Toby Young is happy to defend that. What that makes him I will leave to others.