Nothing in politics today sums up the moral bankruptcy of Theresa May and her alleged Government than their craven, and indeed supine, attitude to the Press Establishment. As the Lords voted yesterday afternoon to ask the Commons to think again about breaking their solemn promise to the victims of press abuse, and consider completing the Leveson Inquiry, we saw this bankruptcy in all its shameless reality.
This was demonstrated by Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, who, as befits any minister who has taken his instructions not from his constituents or the wider public, but from the press barons, talks well, but lies badly, and all too obviously.
As soon as the Lords had voted yesterday afternoon, Hancock declared “Disappointed the Lords have again voted against press freedoms. In the Commons we proposed forward looking action to ensure a free, fair & responsible press. This Lords amendment is unnecessary & we will seek to overturn”. Leveson 2 is not about press freedom. It is about discovering, as Leveson himself said, “who did what to whom”.
Brian Cathcart of Kingston University was unimpressed. “Exactly how does a public inquiry threaten the press? Are you saying they have something to hide? Are you suggesting that identifying those ultimately responsible for criminal activities is contrary to the public interest? Will you really break your party's promises to victims?”
He was not alone, as John Ford showed. “It is the shameless desire to protect John Witherow and his criminality at the Sunday Times, his lack of veracity at Leveson and his timidity to even engage in any discussion thereof. This is a government that protects Corporate Criminals if it suits them”. Ford knows about these things. He blagged all manner of confidential information for … the Sunday Times.
Alastair Morgan simply responded “That's a complete load of tosh @MattHancock. It's all about keeping the press barons happy so they'll continue their support for your nasty government”. He is still looking for answers on the murder over 30 years ago of his brother Daniel, and the potential involvement of the press in the hit and its cover-up.
Others registered disquiet at Hancock’s dishonesty. Ian Hallard asked “Would you care to explain how Leveson 2 hinders Press freedom? Any specifics? If not, it looks very suspicious for MPs to be closing down an inquiry into criminal behaviour and collusion between politicians, the police and the Press, don’t you think?”
Steven Barnett of Westminster University also chipped in. “This is a government minister labelling a long-promised enquiry into corruption, collusion and criminal activity a vote against "press freedoms". In any other industry, it would be a vote for transparency, accountability and truth. I hope MPs vote accordingly”.
And Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain concluded “Matt Hancock is misleading the public here - the Lords amendment was calling for an inquiry (Leveson 2). How is this against press freedoms? Bizarre”. Not so bizarre in the world of Matt Hancock, sadly.
Matt Hancock has lied through his teeth over Leveson 2. In doing so, he has shown the world who is giving him his instructions.