Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Leveson did nothing for many targets of the press

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The Independent Online

Fanatical libertarians are feverishly awaiting Lord Leveson's report on Thursday. Some inquiry team members have been branded dangerous lefties and the nation is warned about ominous state censorship. I believe this whipped-up paranoia is bunkum and that some kind of statutory underpinning is essential for any future press regulatory body.

We heard about victims of malpractice, including Millie Dowler and Christopher Jefferies – an innocent man monstered by British newspapers after the murder of Joanna Yeates. After that we journalists can't demand business as usual any more than bankers and MPs could after their scandals were exposed by, um, newspapers.

That said, I too was hacked off by the Leveson proceedings because they kept within such guarded perimeters. There was no focus on the hideous way some newspapers demonise immigrants, refugees and blameless Muslims often by inventing or exaggerating stories.

Hugh Grant, Charlotte Church and Steve Coogan will get over the intrusions into their lives, but not the families of asylum-seekers whose windows are broken and kids beaten up after newspapers publish their "lavish lifestyles" on benefits. Or the young, pregnant Muslim medical student who is too frightened to go out because neighbours shout "terrorist bitch" when she does because a journalist claimed the estate was full of Bin Laden sympathisers. They have no recourse to lawyers, and nobody cares about that or them.

I went to see the play Enquirer recently, a brilliant enactment of moral degeneracy within the press. It was powerful and uncomfortable because the words were real, mouthed by journalists during 60 interviews. But again, white professionals spoke with intense feeling about their industry, knew what was wrong and what was right, and not one seemed concerned about race in the press. Two black journalists who were interviewed chose to remain anonymous. Is it a conspiracy? Is it a cock-up? Neither. It's just how newspaper journalism excludes our concerns and lives.

With race and ethnicity, anti-foreign attitudes propagated by the red tops have become normative. They stopped this compulsive disparagement during the Olympics. But it's all back, with a vengeance. Asylum-seekers are cast as an enemy just because they made perilous journeys to seek our compassion, and hatred against migrants is encouraged because they work hard for low pay. It's not fair and not right.

Black and Asian Britons and other migrants, victimised so long by the press, are unimpressed by its special pleading and moral claims and have no faith in Leveson. They will continue to be grossly misrepresented by our glorious the press.