As the Leveson 2 “consultation” deadline ticks down, ever more creative ways are being devised to discredit the idea, the latest coming from former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, who has by the most fortunate of coincidences woken up to the prospect of the Inquiry being recommenced and declared that he has spoken to Sir Brian Leveson, and that he therefore knows that He Doesn’t Want To Do It.
Whitto’s insights have now been eagerly recycled by the press as if Moses himself had descended from Mount Sinai with the Judge’s words transposed upon his stone tablets. This manna from heaven has been pounced upon by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail who have claimed “Sir Brian Leveson 'doesn't have any enthusiasm' for chairing part two of his inquiry into the Press, a former culture secretary said yesterday”. Really? Do go on.
“Anti-Press lobby group Hacked Off is putting pressure on the Government to hold a second stage of the inquiry, looking into the relationship between journalists and the police”. Hacked Off smear: CHECK! And there’s more. “But Tory MP John Whittingdale, who oversaw the issue of Press regulation, said he had spoken to Sir Brian and he did not want to proceed with part two”. Whitto even told the Today programme as much.
“'Apart from anything else, the one thing that's clear is that Lord Justice Leveson has no wish to undertake another inquiry,' he told Radio 4's Today programme. 'So you've got to find somebody … He’s already given up 15 months of his life for one inquiry and I've talked to him and I know he doesn't have any enthusiasm’”. Yeah, right.
Well, here on Zelo Street we like to have the right story, so Whitto’s claim has been tested against two independent sources (hello all you pretend “journalists” out there) who have both pointed me to a statement from the Judicial Press Office, which was made available to both the PA and the Daily Mail (if they aren’t letting on, draw your own conclusions).
This reads as follows (my emphases):
“Sir Brian Leveson was appointed to carry out both Parts One and Two of the Inquiry. The Government is currently consulting on whether Part Two should go ahead. In the event that the Government wishes either not to do so, or to modify the Terms of Reference, under the terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 it is required to consult Sir Brian before any final decision is made”. And then comes the part that does for Whittingdale.
“In that event, Sir Brian expects any exchange of letters to be made public. As is well known, he has not spoken publicly about the Inquiry since the publication of his report and, in particular, he has not made any public statement as to the merits of Part Two or his own involvement in any proceedings”.
Even the Mail has now had to add this last paragraph to its report. That paragraph, decoded, means that Whittingdale is talking out of the back of his neck.
As to why Whitto is now proving so amenable to his pals in the Fourth Estate - which includes the same ones who didn’t want the dominatrix story to see the light of day - all I can say is that Zelo Street inquiries continue. The word “Ukraine” keeps cropping up.