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Saturday 12 May 2018

Leveson 2 - It’s Not Over Yet

The relief among the Press Establishment at the narrow defeat of the amendment to the Data Protection Bill which would have forced completion of the Leveson Inquiry - as solemnly promised to victims of press abuse by David Cameron - was considerable. But it was only temporary: part 2 of Leveson has not yet gone away.
It could still be completed ...

Campaigning group Hacked Off had already made it plain that Wednesday’s vote did not mean it was over, telling “This is not the end … The fight goes on in parliament and the courts”. As the Guardian told readers, “peers had already discussed whether to send the relevant legislation back to the House of Commons in the event of a tight vote”.

And so it came to pass: as Politics Home noted yesterday, “Crossbench peer Baroness Hollins is set to table a fresh amendment to the Data Protection Bill calling for so-called 'Leveson 2’ … MPs narrowly defeated calls led by former Labour leader Ed Miliband for the next part of the probe - which was promised by David Cameron - to be established”.

There was more. “With the opposition having a clear majority in the upper chamber, it is highly likely that any vote there would see the Government lose. That would come hard on the heels of the 14 defeats the Lords inflicted on ministers over their flagship EU Withdrawal Bill. It would also set up a fresh Commons battle over Leveson 2, with its supporters piling fresh pressure on MPs to support it”.

At this point, it needs to be stressed that Leveson 2 is not about any change to the current régime of press regulation. It is merely about, as Lord Justice Leveson himself said, “Who did what to whom”. But such is the febrile and paranoid mood in our free and fearless press, that is not how they see it, as one look at the Murdoch Sun shows.
... and guess who's not keen on that prospect?

PEERS were last night preparing a fresh bid to muzzle the Press … Crossbench peer Baroness Hollins was working with Labour on a new amendment to push for a Leveson 2 inquiry” howled the Murdoch goons. But then, this is the newspaper group which would be put under the spotlight as never before if Leveson 2 were to go ahead.

Then, we would find out “who did what to whom” over the decades of bent and corrupt not-really-journalism generated by “Fake Sheikh” Mazher Mahmood (in the Screws, the Sunday Times and the Sun), and the role of the Murdoch press in reporting events such as the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, the “Battle of Orgreave”, and the Gibraltar shootings.

We would see a light shone on the complicity, collusion, cover-up, and corruption that was the Daniel Morgan murder and all the failed investigations into it that followed. And along the way, we would most likely see many more revelations of the kind that repulsed the public in the way the Dowler hacking did when phone hacking was being uncovered.

Small wonder then that the Sun is already on a hair trigger over the prospect of another vote on Leveson 2. No, it’s not about muzzling the press. It’s about not muzzling the news that the press wants to keep muzzled. Which may prove difficult for the press.

When it’s difficult for anyone else, the press has no problem publishing it. But when the boot is so firmly on the other foot, we should just “move on”. Or this time, maybe not.


Unknown said...

Not very wise of you to block people on Twitter because they speak the truth now isn't it Tim?

Try and convince me as to why Wednesday's vote would NOT stifle the press had it gone through. Also, shouldn't the left support a free press and freedom of speech WITHOUT government interference as the current laws could be used to silence US too?

I think these are reasonable points, which require a reasonable answer without acting like a petulant child over the issue.

Craig x

Tim Fenton said...


No new law is involved in Wednesday's vote, and nor would one feature if the issue came back to the Commons.

It is about the completion of the Leveson Inquiry. No new or amended laws are involved.

So what was that about "reasonable points"? I was right - you display rank ignorance. Away with you.

Anonymous said...


We’ve been through all this, so I’ll just repeat what Tim said in plain English.

All we want is the Leveson Inquiry to finish what it started. It is nothing to do with creating new laws or legislation, it is to clarify the role of News UK and other newspaper publishers in various scandals and cover ups.

It is something that was promised by the previous Prime Minister on a cross-party basis, and promised to a long list of victims including Christopher Jeffries, the Hillsborough families, the survivors of the battle of Orgreave and the family of Daniel Morgan.

The inquiry would also probe the transactions between the press and the police in relation to certain dubious exclusives, including those involving Fake Sheikh Mazher Mahmood. Considering the police could be in this up to their necks, is it any wonder many of these cases never reach court?

So, no, it’s nothing to do with legislation and laws, it’s about ‘who did what to whom’. If the press are brainwashing you into thinking otherwise, then I pity you if nothing else.

The Hillsborough families waited decades to get the truth, would you deny that right to the truth about how the lies were spread?

Unknown said...

I think people need to start to look beyond the so-called "Good Intentions" by those who claim that state regulation of it is a good thing.

The way I saw it is that wasn't just giving the likes of the Sun and the Daily Mail a bloody nose if this was to happen. EVERY press outlet whether in print or online regardless of political standing will be made to conform or suffer very heavy consequences including being shut down by the state. And to me, that's a very dangerous path to go down for any democracy worth it's salt.

It could also potentially curtail investigative journalism as there's great examples out there such as the "Panama papers", the MP expenses scandal, Edward Snowden's NSA revelations among many others which I suspect would be prevented by going into the public domain had this succeeded.

Also to the MPs, celebrities etc who are calling for this. May I remind you that your public figures. And while your doing your publicly funded jobs and/or promoting you media your also under our scrutiny good or bad. You cannot pick and choose to shut down smear pieces when you've acted dishonestly or cheated on your marriage (which is public record anyway). If you want this to stop, either start acting with integrity or get out of public life. It's that simple.

And to those who claim that there's a "Monopoly" that to me is rubbish. No one is forcing you at gunpoint to ingest news and information under duress. There may be "Big Fish" and "Little Fish" within the industry, but everyone has the same means to get their news, opinions and information out there in the public domain. And if anyone enjoys an article and want others to know, you can always share on it social media and let others decide. Besides there's plenty of good liberal and left leaning news and websites to enjoy so the right doesn't own the franchise on free speech here.

And finally, to those who are aggrieved by the bad behaviour of journalists. Those caught hacking phones were punished by the courts and those who continue to flout the law will be punished eventually as such underhanded methods are deemed illegal.

So can anyone convince me otherwise as to why state regulation of the press is a good thing now? Change my mind if you can. 😀

Tim Fenton said...


Craig, please listen to me once.

The Leveson 2 vote is not, repeat IS NOT about new regulations.

It just isn't. Not at all. It's NOT about new regulations.

It's about completing the Leveson Inquiry. And it's not about new regulations (did I mention that?)

What you may have meant was the proposals that came out of Part 1 of the Inquiry. The idea that these would prevent investigative journalism is bunk. That's not my conclusion, it's that of people like Nick Davies, who unearthed the phone hacking scandal. It's the view of Harry Evans, one of the great Fleet Street editors.

Also, there is no proposal, in Leveson Part 1 or elsewhere, for State Regulation. None at all. There is no proposal, repeat NO PROPOSAL, for State Regulation. There isn't one. Any proposal. At all.

This is what I meant by your being ignorant. All you are doing is to repeat the formulaic rubbish the press establishment throws out in order to deflect from the issue.

Please read around the subject and don't come back until and unless you have done. There's a good commenter.

You're welcome.

Unknown said...

Whatever Tim... But I think that given the recommendations last time, one must be wary on another inquiry. Plus the press by and large have improved their behaviour since then and have become more accountable.

If you don't like that, then fine. But if you claim to be "Nice" and "Tolerant" then stop sneering and trying to show off eh?

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is, if Leveson 2 goes full on in exposure of all of the press bad practices, an outraged public would make sure the press will pay.
This can be done in many ways.

They'll put themselves out of business. Simply by being exposed.

No like. No buy.

What passes for journalism in some circles is an embarrassment.

Comments like mine will make them furious. Good. It kind of proves the whole point. You dish it out but can't take it.

Boo hoo. :-0

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch .