Leveson Q&A: So what have we ended up with? And won’t the papers just ignore it?

Ian Burrell answers the key questions about the recommendations

Q Lord Leveson talks of a “self-regulatory body” – isn’t that just a continuation of the old Press Complaints Commission?

A No. He uses that expression but what he is actually proposing is an independent body “without any influence from [press] industry or Government” – but one that, to the dismay of newspapers, has its powers underpinned by statute.

Q Will journalists just be able to ignore Leveson’s idea for a regulator – just like they appeared to do with the PCC?

A With or without statutory underpinning, these proposals would introduce major changes in the way newspapers operate – and in opportunities to challenge the stories they write. The regulator could fine papers up to £1m and would dictate “the nature, extent and placement” of apologies.

Q Wouldn’t the regulator just be an old boys’ club of press stooges?

A Not under the Leveson plan, where a “substantial majority” of the panel that appoints the chairman and the board should be “demonstrably independent of the press”.

Q How much punishment could it inflict on miscreant papers? A slap on the wrist?

A Financial sanctions could mean a fine of £1m or up to 1% of the publisher’s turnover. All breaches of compliance standards would be listed in a public “hall of shame”.

Q Is anything been done to  help people who don’t have limitless pockets to take media companies to court when they  publish false stories?

A Leveson proposes a new arbitration system which is designed to be “fair, quick and expensive”, using legal experts of “high reputation” to determine civil legal claims on a cost-only basis.

Q Will newspapers be pleased  about that?

A Investigative journalists might be concerned that they will be repeatedly hauled before tribunals to account for their working methods on any contentious stories. But publishers will hope that such a system might reduce legal costs for defamation actions – and Leveson suggests that “frivolous or vexatious” claims should be promptly struck out.

Q Will there be any impact on the way journalists obtain stories?

A Yes, the scandalous trade in personal information highlighted by Operation Motorman has led to Leveson proposing a tightening up of data protection laws. Concerns over close relations between journalists and police officers should mean an end to “off-the-record” briefing from officers, and all meeting between senior officers and journalists must be recorded and made available for public consumption “for transparency and audit purposes”.

Q Would this regulatory system apply to all written news media?

A No. Although Leveson says it can only be effective if it covers “all significant news providers” this is not, in practice, likely to include the army of bloggers, Twitter users and emerging specialist online sites that have become integral to the news cycle.

Q That sounds like a two tier system – why would anyone want to join up and how do we know if they do?

A Leveson says that a new regulatory body should consider establishing a kite mark system to act as a sign of quality control and help the signatories to the system stand out as a “recognised brand of trusted journalism”.

Q What if a publisher thinks that’s not enough incentive?

A Well, Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell titles, and indeed Ian Hislop’s Private Eye, stand outside of the PCC. So there have been concerns that there would be renegade titles that will also shun the Leveson model. The judge suggests that papers who are not signed up to the system should be regarded in the courts as having “shown wilful disregard of standards” and as such be subject to potential claims for exemplary damages.

Q Don’t we already have a media regulator in Ofcom?

A Yes, the broadcasting watchdog. Leveson would like Ofcom to have an overseeing role with the new body in order to reassure the public that “the basic requirements of independence and effectiveness were met”. In fact, he goes further. If the press was to reject Leveson’s model of regulation, the judge says that one of the options for such a “regrettable” stance would be to bring in Ofcom “as a backstop regulator for those not prepared to join such a scheme”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas