While most of the Fourth Estate may pretend that the Leveson Inquiry, its subsequent report, and the cross-party Royal Charter, is in the past and long forgotten, the reality is rather different: while sham regulator IPSO gives the pretence of reform, the new and fully independent IMPRESS moves towards full readiness, and the campaigners of Hacked Off continue to press for real reform.
Tom Watson MP
Part of the Hacked Off campaign is the annual Leveson lecture, which this year had to be moved from the House of Commons to One Great George Street, such was the demand for tickets. Here, Labour MP Tom Watson gave that lecture, the subject being “Unfinished Business”. Zelo Street was there, and indeed was still there later on at the Westminster Arms for a pint or three.
And, had the press or its supporters bothered to look in, they would see just how counterproductive their behaviour has become: to the ranks of those finding themselves on the wrong end of bad behaviour has now been added Andy Miller, recently victorious in a libel battle with the Daily Mail, which lost around £3 million going all the way to the Supreme Court. He bought drinks afterwards.
Also present was the Labour Party member who saw the pre-determined cynicism and sneering directed at Mil The Younger after his recent Senate House speech, and confronted the press pack afterwards, only to see them avert their gaze and snigger to themselves. The bad behaviour may give the hacks and pundits a nice warm feeling, but it is repelling the public with the certainty of night following day.
Then the considerable presence of John Sweeney, whose recent Panorama expose of “fake sheikh” Mazher Mahmood was fought through the courts by lawyers funded by the Murdoch empire, was revealed to long and loud applause. Sweeney, to the shame of the BBC, has, along with producer Meirion Jones, just been made redundant. Their revelations caused the Police to reopen many files.
That several hundred turned out on a cold and windy December evening to cheer Watson’s speech, which noted of the press’ and Police’s past relationship “you don’t know who’s working for whom, but you know who they’re working against – the public” , should tell the Murdoch, Rothermere, Desmond and Barclay Brothers empires something – if only they would stop and listen.
Indeed, it has now been revealed that the Metropolitan Police have reopened 25 cases where Mahmood’s evidence was involved, and defendants “will be provided with a ‘disclosure pack’ which ‘they may consider undermines the conviction in a specific case,’ a spokesperson said”. Mahmood was protected and encouraged by the Murdoch press as he went about his “stings”.
Unfinished business, indeed. And it will be finished one day, whoever opposes it.