The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee has issued its response to the Government’s “consultation” on commencing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, and part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry. It has recommended that sham press regulator IPSO should be given a year to become Leveson compliant, and that if it doesn’t, then at least partial commencement of Section 40 should follow.
Kath Viner, editor, the Guardian
That would mean costs protection for those pursuing complaints against publishers - like national newspapers - which would mean, in the case of actions deemed to pass a credibility threshold, those publishers that refused to submit to low-cost arbitration of those claims, as is offered by truly independent regulator Impress, the publisher would find themselves liable for both sides’ cost in any subsequent legal action.
This is because the “reasonable route” to take would be to offer that low-cost arbitration; to deny complainants this, and force them to bet the house on going to law, is deemed to be unreasonable, and hence the penalty. Many papers are either not reporting this, or are doing so selectively and slanting their reports to fit their agenda, which is inevitably hostile to Section 40, and especially Leveson Part 2.
And talking of Leveson 2 (covering the relationship between press and Police), which would cover less than trivial items such as the wider use of phone hacking - it didn’t just happen at the late and not at all lamented Screws - along with the creative back catalogue of Mazher Mahmood, the Daniel Morgan murder, the trade in illegal information gathering, and much more, the Committee has recommended it should go ahead.
So who is reporting this news? To its credit, London business freesheet City AM has carried the story and reported it more or less straight down the line (the paper even describes Impress as “Government-recognised”, rather than the more pejorative “state-backed”), and of course campaigning group Hacked Off has a press release out, with comments from QC Hugh Tomlinson, who is the group’s Chair.
One other paper that has reported the story, although slanted out of all proportion and turned into another tedious rant about Max Mosley and the NUJ, is the Murdoch Sun, although, as Zelo Street will be discussing later this weekend, they have good reason right now to be telling anyone who will listen that they should “look over there”.
But one news source which had been in the vanguard of reporting the battle over press regulation reform, and which had for so long championed the causes of many of the victims of press misbehaviour, has been silent: step forward the Guardian. Once again, as I pointed out with the paper’s hypocrisy and volte face over Section 40 last month, the legacy of Charles Prestwich Scott and his successors is being forgotten.
Instead, the Guardian is being gradually assimilated by the Borg of the media establishment, to end up an anodyne shadow of its former self. The next exposure of press misbehaviour will not be achieved by those at King’s Place.
Hence the need for others to step in and take forward the torch of genuine investigative journalism. The Greatness of the Guardian was for a time, but not for all time.