The Leveson Report: Victims of the hunt for a scoop

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Lord Justice Leveson reserved some of his harshest criticism for newspapers' 'reckless' pursuit of sensational tales. James Cusick looks at the victims

“Certain parts of the press ride roughshod over others, both individuals and the public at large, without any justifiable public interest.” That was Lord Justice Leveson’s stinging verdict on the treatment some of the press have meted out to individuals and families that compelled the Government to order a full judicial inquiry.

“Most responsible corporate entities would be appalled that employees were or could be involved in the commission of crime in order to further their business,” Leveson wrote, adding in a damning verdict directed at Rupert Murdoch’s News International: “Not so at the News of the World.”

Looking beyond phone hacking, the report says “there were many other examples of  egregious behaviour on the part of the press”.

The judge rejects the idea that the failings were limited to the News of the World. The significant number of stories that failed to meet adequate standards “cannot be ignored”, his report says, adding that this “reflects a culture (or more accurately a sub-culture) within parts of some titles”.

Inside national newspapers, Leveson says there was a “recklessness in prioritising sensational stories” that was “heedless of the public interest”. Due to some journalists’ “determination to get to the story”, some people – even though they were only connected to someone famous – suffered in a “real, and in some cases, devastating” manner, he writes.

Accepting that “errors and inaccuracies” are part of a “fast-moving and healthy press, Leveson says that “when the story is just too big and the public appetite too great”, there has been a “significant and reckless disregard for accuracy” and adds that the risk to the public because of such errors “is obvious”.

Christopher Jefferies

Joanna Yeates was the tenant of Mr Jefferies, a retired teacher, when she went missing over Christmas 2010. The landlord, who was taken into custody and questioned by police over three days, had no idea what was happening to his reputation outside. Rules on contempt and prejudice had been ditched by many titles. Leveson says the story acquired its “own close to irresistible momentum and was running out of control” with many newspapers printing “what they could get away with in print”. Although the Daily Mirror and The Sun are singled out for particular criticism in the report, Mr Jefferies is described as “the victim of a very serious injustice perpetrated by a significant section of the press.

Hugh Grant

One of the inquiry’s first witnesses, the actor indirectly accused the Mail papers of hacking into his phone. The accusation related to an article in the Mail on Sunday describing the cause of his broken relationship with heiress Jemima Khan. A war of words between Mr Grant and the Mail broke out across days of the inquiry involving speculation over the identity of a “plummy voiced executive” and whether details had been taken from Mr Grant’s phone. The editor-in-chief of the Mail titles, Paul Dacre, offered an “aggressive” explanation to the inquiry described as “not justified”. Leveson says in his report this is “a good example of the phenomenon of aggressive defence”.

Gordon and Sarah Brown

In November 2006, The Sun published private medical information about Gordon and Sarah Brown’s four-month-old son. The story revealed he had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The report states there was “no public interest in the story” and accepted that neither parent had “expressly consented to publication”. Rebekah Brooks, in her evidence, had claimed the Browns had been “absolutely committed to making this public”. Leveson says her account “defies belief”. The report states that “the treatment of Mr and Mrs Brown by News International left much to be desired” and says it provides “a fine example of a number of aspects of unsatisfactory or unethical press practices”.

Kate and Gerry McCann

Madeleine McCann was abducted in Portugal in May 2007. The press treatment of her parents, particularly by the Daily Star and Express newspapers, is heavily criticised. Leveson states: “If ever there was an example of a story which ran totally out of control, this is one.” The press appetite for news of Madeleine is described as “insatiable” with the search for the truth “the first principle to be sacrificed”. A number of titles were described as being “guilty of gross libels” with “gross inaccuracy” in reporting criticised as “bluntly outrageous”. The parents became “a news item, a commodity, almost a piece of public property”. And because the McCanns had tried to engage with the media, the press behaved as though “they had waived their right to privacy.”

Sebastian Bowles

A coach accident in Switzerland in March this year killed 28 people, among them 22 children. One of those who lost their lives was an 11-year-old from Britain, Sebastian Bowles. Although press and photographers were banned from the centre where parents of the dead were being kept, photographs of the Bowles family appeared in the Daily Mail. Other pictures appeared on The Sun’s website, and The Daily Telegraph published intimate family details that had been lifted from Sebastian’s last blogs. Leveson says the way this story was reported “undeniably raises issues under the Editors’ Code [of the PCC] in relation to … the press’s discretion surrounding the reporting of grief.”

The Dowlers

The way the News of the World treated the disappearance of Milly, the daughter of Bob and Sally Dowler, is described by the Leveson Report as defining the “fine line between the need to engage the press to publicise a predicament or cause, and the dangers of press intrusion”. Her mobile phone was “hacked into and tampered with” by the NOTW. However “equal if not greater importance”, the report says, should be given to the “intrusive and insensitive” reporting at a time of “intense personal distress” for the family. While the courts will wrestle with the case next year, the report says: “The fact remains that the NOTW hacked the phone of a dead schoolgirl.”

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
Sport
Premier League Live Saturday 23 August
sportAll the action from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition