I won’t pretend to know more I do about the 2,000 page report on press standards published today by Lord Leveson, but here are some brief thoughts I have from my limited knowledge.
The report has said that an independent regulator is the only way to stop cases such as phone hacking and other breaches of civil liberties from occurring. I am glad that the proposal is not suggesting the government regulates the press. Although I have faith in the democratic credentials of any British government in the near future, the British press has been ‘free’ for 300 years and any control by the government would bring our country closer to the likes of China or Iran, where no news source can be trusted for unbiased reporting. It does seem like an independent regulator is the best way of managing the situation – and I’m sure Leveson hasn’t made these proposals without serious thought.
The reactions of politicians are both interesting and predictable. David Cameron seems to be trying to both accept and reject the conclusions. He agrees with the principle of an independent regulator but is uncomfortable with the prospect of bringing in laws over it. Nick Clegg, in one of the more apparent schisms the coalition has faced, has completely said the opposite, that he believes government ought to pass laws. Ed Miliband, along with most of the opposition, seems to agree with Clegg’s view. It is thought that if this matter goes to a vote where MPs are free to vote as they wish, Cameron would be defeated. But only the government can draft legislation, so after all these months of testimonies and reports, there may end up nothing being done for some time.