Independent editor warns Leveson is 'loading gun'


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The Independent Online

Lord Justice Leveson is preparing a "demolition" of Britain's newspaper industry, according to the editor of The Independent.

Chris Blackhurst, who has been sent the summary findings of the Leveson Report but is prevented from revealing specific details, described the document as the equivalent of "loading a gun".

Mr Blackhurst said the letter was filled with "one-sided criticism that is a damning indictment of my industry" yet did not reflect the realities of working practices on many newspapers.

Lord Justice Leveson, an appeal court judge whose report could lead to the first statutory regulation of the UK press, has written to all major national and regional newspapers with advance warning of his findings.

Although he admitted some of the report's criticisms were justified, Mr Blackhurst said none of the positive character of Britain's press had been mentioned in the 116-page document. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The Media Show, he said his initial reaction to the overall tone of the Leveson draft was one of "shock and anger". Mr Blackhurst said that the majority of what he read in the draft did not apply to practices at many newspapers in The Independent's market.

The presiding judge of a judicial inquiry must notify those who will be criticised, giving them an opportunity to answer those accusations. That report is now expected in late October or early November.

Last night, an inquiry spokesman said: "Lord Justice Leveson is disappointed that the contents of confidential letters that he has written are being openly discussed in the Press. He wants to make it clear that all recipients of these letters – which are issued in accordance with Rule 13 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 – are obliged by this confidence."