Published on 29 Nov 2012

Leveson – more party talks next week

Tonight, No.10, Lib Dem and Labour sources are saying that the talks between the three party leaders lasted half an hour or so and resume next week.

David Cameron is said to have promised that he will get the DCMS to draft some sort of bill along the lines of what Lord Justice Leveson asked for, but it looks like a measure to keep opinion on-side and look willing.

The PM said before the report that he would implement the Leveson recommendations unless he thought they were daft (my word not his). You get the impression listening to some of the PM’s criticisms of the Leveson report in the Commons that that’s exactly what he thinks of some of the conclusions.

In the Commons he sounded exasperated that the judge could think Ofcom an appropriate overseer for press regulation when it’s the government that appoints the Ofcom boss. He was critical of the idea of tightening the Data Protection laws to stop journalists getting relaxed rules – as was Nick Clegg.

As Lord Justice Leveson left the stage after his rather sterile “non press conference” statement to a room filled with journalists and interested parties, Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail shouted out “did you enjoy it, Sir Brian?” Lord Justice Leveson visibly shrugged, before walking off the set, hoping perhaps that was his last ever direct contact with a journalist.

Gordon Brown didn’t get the sweet vindication he sought from the judge who writes he can’t arbitrate between the vastly contrasting accounts of whether The Sun published a story about his son’s health with or without his permission. Leveson’s report says it is difficult “to resolve the stark evidential dispute” between the Rebekah Brooks/Gordon Brown versions.

On the “grand bargain” allegation that began with Gordon Brown’s camp suggesting David Cameron was cooking up policies to please Rupert Murdoch ahead of the 2010 election, the judge writes: “the evidence does not, of course, establish anything resembling a ‘deal.’ ” He goes on: “the problem is public perception … the public .. has been entitled to worry about the way things have been done…”

On the question of whether David Cameron properly quizzed Andy Coulson about allegations of phone hacking before bringing him into the top echelons of No.10, he judges: “I am quite sure that it was raised; given the significance of the issue, it was most probably raised on … four occasions.”

On pages 1793-4, talking about the back-stop if even state certified self-regulation fails, Lord Justice Leveson repeatedly refers to how he thinks there would need to be a fully-fledged state regulator of the press. But rather tellingly he talks about this being “my personal view” and “my preferred solution,” which sounds like some divergence of opinion between the judge and his panel of assessors for whom this maybe just went too far.

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9 reader comments

  1. StuartM says:

    Cameron has been educated expensively and had been properly taught that you support your friends. Thus he cannot let Rebecca and Rupert down. They have been kind and supportive to him and so deserve his kindness and support now. So there is no way he can subject them (and their companies) to legal regulations. After all, Rupert supported him last election, he goes riding and has “Country suppers” with Rebecca and James, etc. So he may be letting the rest of us down but he doesn’t know us. He has never had a country supper with me. I don’t even have a horse (and I don’t think I move in the right circles to be given one by my police force).

    LOL
    Stuart

  2. Yorkshire Lass says:

    So after all the fuss and expense we end up with the press “still marking their own homework” as Anne Diamond said.

  3. J A Matthews says:

    Looking at the amount of U turns made by this coalition government under the leadership of David Cameron having got their policies wrong. And the ethics and morals of the establishment from Banks. Energy companies. Members of parliament expenses. The Press. Space prevents me from giving a complete list. This country seems to have turned into a plutocracy rather than a Democracy. David Cameron seems to be saying “You can say what you like as long as I have the last word ” Free speech is about the majority of the people having their voices heard and noticed. And if the majority of the people in this country want to be freed from the tyranny of at least one part of the establishment and have their Democratic voice heard I would say Lord Justice Levinson and his findings after a long and exhaustive investigation is to be preferred than one mans “David Cameron” Viewpoint. Especially as his viewpoint seems to change from day to day.

  4. Andrew Dundas says:

    Economists describe undeclared deals ‘mutual exchange of gifts’. The rest of us identify undeclared deals as ‘you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’.

    However implicit deals are described, they’re impossible to prove, and easy to deny. Which is where the cosy relationship between Cameron and the Murdoch empire comes in. Cameron needed Murdoch’s support to make his ‘debt crises’ claims stick in 2010, and he knew Murdoch needed Cameron’s support to buy up all of Sky TV. Was that a deal? We’ll never know. Neither could Leveson ever know either. Which might explain his judgement on this matter.

  5. Philip Edwards says:

    Gary,

    Great.

    More talks about talks.

    Then nothing.

    Until the next time, when Trevor Kavanagh of the Sun can re-appear and do his utterly hypocritical sotto voce performance yet again. And he is supposed to be “respected.” You might well ask…..by whom?

    So, as forecast, nothing to see here. Move along.

    No wonder journalists and their owners are despised for the gang of creeps they are.

  6. Saltaire Sam says:

    The Today programme this morning (Friday) had a classic example of a politician’s arrogance, assuming that what they believe is what the rest of us believe.

    Gerry McCann had spoken about Leveson and said he wanted legal underpinning to any new watchdog.

    A minute later the culture secretary said she believed that legal underpinning wasn’t needed. After a bit more blather about broadly accepting Leveson, she claimed that’s what Gerry McCann wants.

    I’m sick to death of politicians putting forward their own views and saying that is what the majority of Britain wants or that’s what the country wants. Just tell us what you think and we’ll decide what we want. Certainly don’t insult someone by contradicting him and then telling him you know better than he what he wants.

  7. Andrew Dundas says:

    Are the Newspaper groups proposing to form a Cartel? It looks like it, and sounds like it.
    Isn’t that proposed Cartel a matter for the OFT to investigate?
    If their cabal were given the backing of Law, it couldn’t be a Cartel. Otherwise, it is.

  8. Mike Robinson says:

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    I was screwed over by the redtops at one point in my life, but I certainly don’t want the state involved in censoring what they write or I read.

    Legislation means MP’s and backroom deals. This “legislative oversight” might be a small step, but so is the ice crystal in the cloud that condenses the first raindrop…. after which the deluge.

    If you don’t want MP’s and the State deciding what you can read — or who is fit to write what you read — as they try to dictate so many other aspects of life in which they have little competence or experience, keep well away from legislation.

    It is a poisoned chalice.

  9. Philip says:

    We all need to understand that Cameron is becoming paranoid about what UKIP will do do his chances of winning election in 2015, especially if Rupert decides to support them because of their clear “leave the EU” stance. He likes being PM, especially if he can BE PM, rather than actually do anything much. The fact that UKIP looks & sounds more & more like the Tea Party will also endear themselves to Rupert, who, after all, as an ex-pat who appears to support creationsim, etc, is much more important to Cameron than the British people. Given that Leveson proposes about as arms-length statutory underpinning that you could get, it’s incredible we get all this pontificating about a free press. (isn’t broadcasting regulated statutorily, ahem?) Mindboggling hypocrisy!

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