Yesterday marked not only the day when MPs voted to hold a General Election - the first December contest since 1923, one which didn’t go so well for the Tories - but also the fifth anniversary of sham press regulator IPSO. The non-regulator, which has not levied a single fine in its five-year tenure, nor insisted on a front page correction, had the brass neck to hold a party yesterday to celebrate its complete lack of achievement.
IPSO, as I told al-Jazeera’s Listening Post back in December 2015, is merely the same, er, fluid as the old Press Complaints Commission, but in a differently labelled bottle. The PCC was disgraced, a sham. It had been absent elsewhere when the phone hacking scandal unfolded. IPSO is in the same mould. The abuses have not stopped, and IPSO has been central to wiping the press’ backsides. To let them carry on abusing.
Well, now that election has been called, voters have a choice when it comes to press abuse. Because, of the two main parties, only one seeks to continue the Leveson Inquiry, with its second part, which would examine “Who did what to whom”. That second part would touch on stories like the Daniel Morgan murder, in which the Murdoch press was heavily implicated. It would also consider the activities of Mazher Mahmood.
Maz’ rampage of entrapment ruined many lives, all for one thing: to sell more copies of the late and not at all lamented Screws. Leveson 2 would also consider the continued use of the Dark Arts, which were not confined to phone hacking, and have continued since Part 1 was published, along with its recommendations, which the press duly ignored.
Blagging of information, rifling through bins, illegal use of the Police National Computer, improperly accessing NHS records, getting name and address details from phone numbers, phone call records, bank account details, credit card details, surveillance, tailing targets, all unlawful, and all still happening. And then there is doorstepping.
The result? Many high profile cases of press intrusion, recently and notably including Ben Stokes, Gareth Thomas, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. But there are victims of press misbehaviour who are not well known, and do not have the means to fight back. Zelo Street has highlighted the case of single Mum Danielle Hindley, whose privacy was invaded by a Mail on Sunday hack, and whose business suffered serious damage.
Ms Hindley was assisted by the Hacked Off campaign, which advocates for a free, but accountable, press. The campaign has helped many others, including Paul Dadge, a first responder to the 7th July 2005 London terror attacks whose phone was hacked, and Christopher Jefferies, who was wrongly accused by the press of killing Joanna Yeates. The Sun and Daily Mirror were both, additionally, found guilty of contempt of court.
Remember Lucy Meadows? After Leveson Part 1, when all was supposed to be well with the press, a transgender woman was hounded into taking her own life. The Daily Mail, with Richard Littlejohn in the vanguard, played a significant part in her death. The Sun, via a column from Rod Liddle, smeared blind trans activist Emily Brothers.
The only one of the two major parties committed to Leveson 2 is Labour. Committed to giving redress to victims of press abuse. The Tories don’t care, because that same press is the shock troops it needs to pump out disinformation. Vote Labour to end the abuse.
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