Diary: Leveson's impenetrable inquisitor lets his mask slip

Plus: Hogging the Lords limelight after 50 years

Each day during the Leveson Inquiry, the inquisitor Robert Jay presented an impenetrable mask to the courtroom. People could only guess what he really thought about the British press – until the other day, when he opened his mind to an audience in Singapore. His attitude, it transpires, is part admiring, part disapproving. He thinks the British press "could well qualify as the most unruly and irreverent in the world".

That may sound like a condemnation but is actually a back-handed compliment.

He added: "To be described as 'unruly and irreverent' would be regarded by most editors and journalists as a badge of honour, not of aspersion. Many would argue that these qualities make the press in the UK the best in the world."

But the bad news for British editors is that he is also in favour of statutory regulation of the press, dismissing fears that regulation would be the top of a "slippery slope" towards censorship. "Those fears amount to scaremongering," he said. "I do not see any slope, let alone a slippery one."

Hogging the Lords limelight after 50 years

A by-election is under way for a seat in Parliament. There are 27 candidates and 48 men entitled to vote, all 75 of whom are Conservatives who inherited ancient titles. They are choosing a replacement for Earl Ferrers, a Conservative hereditary peer who died last November.

This is a product of the compromise reached under the Labour government, who cleared the Lords of all but 92 of its hereditary peers. Those that remain were elected by their fellow hereditary peers. When one dies, the hereditaries from the deceased's political party choose a successor from among the hereditary peers who have not got seats.

One candidate stands out – as a former Cabinet minister. This is Viscount Hailsham, aka the former Tory MP Douglas Hogg. Fifty years ago, his father renounced the family peerage and got himself elected as an MP in the hope of becoming prime minister. That did not work out, so he went back into the Lords as a life peer, while his son became an MP. The younger Hogg might also have aspired to a life peerage on leaving the Commons, but for the expenses scandal, during which it emerged he had submitted a £2,200 claim for clearing the moat around his house in 1970. If he wins on 6 February, there will a hereditary Lord Hailsham back in the Lords after a 50-year gap.

Suggested Topics
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 People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?