First part of Leveson Inquiry report to be released next Thursday

 

The report from the first part of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards is to be released next Thursday.

David Cameron set up the inquiry in July last year in response to revelations that the News of the World commissioned a private detective to hack murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone after she disappeared in 2002.

The first part, which started in September last year, looked at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general and its final report will be published on November 29, the inquiry announced today.

Inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson will publish the report, which is expected to include recommendations for the future regulation of the British press, at 1.30pm next Thursday, followed by an "on-camera statement".

The report will be laid in both Houses of Parliament, the inquiry said, and will be available on its website once it has been laid in Parliament.

Lord Justice Leveson and his panel of advisors heard months of evidence - some explosive - from key figures including celebrities, lawyers, politicians and journalists.

Formal evidence started on November 14, 2011, and, according to its website, the inquiry sat for a total of 88 days up to and including June 30 this year.

The final report will reveal Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations for the future regulation of the British press.

Leaked details of private letters that Lord Justice Leveson wrote to newspaper groups were said to have revealed stinging criticism, with one source telling The Guardian the chairman had thrown the "kitchen sink" at the press.

As debates over possible outcomes from the inquiry have raged in the run-up to the publication of its report, the Prime Minister has been urged not to impose statutory regulation on the press.

Editors of local papers covering his constituency, as well as those of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Culture Secretary Maria Miller, all pleaded for the protection of a free press.

Mr Cameron has indicated he will implement any recommendations which are not "bonkers".

He, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband told victims of press abuses yesterday, including Kate McCann and Chris Jefferies - who was caught up in coverage of the murder investigation of landscape architect Joanna Yeates - that they would "look favourably" on Lord Justice Leveson's proposals.

There are believed to be differences within the Government over whether that should include putting the press under statutory controls.

Education Secretary Michael Gove took a swipe at Lord Justice Leveson this week by suggesting he needs "lessons in freedom of speech".

Speaking at the Spectator magazine's parliamentary awards, Mr Gove, a former journalist, compared the inquiry chairman with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism - which was behind the notorious Newsnight investigation that led to Lord McAlpine being smeared.

Referring to his own evidence at the inquiry, he said: "It's also a pity that His Honour Brian Leveson cannot be here so he could receive the Bureau of Investigative Journalism award for commitment to truth-telling for his wonderful comments - 'I don't really need any lessons in freedom of speech, Mr Gove, really I don't'."

The second part of the inquiry, examining the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, cannot begin until detectives complete their investigation into alleged phone-hacking and corrupt payments to police, and any prosecutions have been concluded.

Several people face charges relating to the phone-hacking scandal, which involves three investigations: Operation Elveden, examining alleged bribery of public officials; Operation Weeting, which is looking at allegations of phone hacking; and Operation Tuleta, an inquiry into accusations of computer hacking and other privacy breaches.

On Tuesday, the CPS announced that five people, including former spin doctor Andy Coulson and ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, are facing charges under Operation Elveden.

A senior counter-terrorism detective has already been charged as part of the investigation and is due to face trial in January.

Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn is accused of leaking information to the News of the World about the police inquiry into whether to reopen the investigation into phone hacking.

Eight people, including Coulson and Brooks, face charges under Operation Weeting, linked to an alleged conspiracy to hack phones.

The others are private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and five former News of the World journalists - ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, ex-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former reporter James Weatherup.

They are all due to face trial next September.

So far, 18 people have been arrested as part of Operation Tuleta, but no one has yet been charged.

PA

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