Ed Miliband's Commons statement on Leveson

 

Ed Miliband's statement on the Leveson Inquiry to the House of Commons:

Can I start by thanking the Prime Minister for his statement, and for his co-operative tone and approach on this issue.

I want to echo his tribute and thank Lord Justice Leveson and his team for the painstaking, impartial and comprehensive way they have conducted this Inquiry.

And I thank Lord Justice Leveson for the clarity with which he has explained his Report today.

Most of all, I want to pay tribute to the innocent victims who gave evidence to the Inquiry.

People who did not seek to be in the public eye, who suffered deep loss and grief, and then faced further trauma at the hands of sections of the press.

Bob and Sally Dowler. It is easy to forget now, but without the revelations last July about what happened to them and to their daughter, and their courage in speaking out, we would simply not be here today.

Gerry and Kate McCann, who suffered so much and showed such courage.

Kate McCann, whose daughter remains missing, and who saw her private diary published by the News of the World for the sake of a story.

They gave evidence to this Inquiry to serve the wider public interest and we pay tribute to them.

It is they who must be at the forefront of our minds today.

Much has been written about the reasons for this Inquiry.

A free press is essential to a functioning democracy.

The press must be able to hold the powerful, especially politicians, to account, without fear or favour.

That is part of the character of our country.

At the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit.

And where powerful interests in the press know they won’t be held to account.

This is about the character of our country.

There never was just one “rogue reporter”.

Lord Justice Leveson concludes that a whole range of practices – from phone hacking to covert surveillance, to harassment, to other wrongful behaviour – were widespread, all in breach of the code by which the press was supposed to abide.

I recognise the many decent people who work in our country’s newspapers. And not every newspaper did wrong.

But Lord Justice Leveson concludes, and I quote “...it is argued that these are aberrations and do not reflect on the culture, practices or ethics of the press as a whole. I wholly reject this analysis.”

This will not come as a surprise to many people.

But as Lord Justice Leveson also concludes, there has been “a persistent failure [by politicians] to respond... to public concern about the culture, practices and ethics of the press”.

We must all take responsibility for that.

The publication of this report is the moment when we must put that right.

Upholding the freedom of the press, and guaranteeing protection and redress for the citizen.

As the Prime Minister himself said at the Leveson Inquiry: “If the families like the Dowlers feel this has really changed the way they would have been treated, we would have done our job properly.”

I agree.

Let us be clear about Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals and why they are different from the present system.

He proposes:

A genuinely independent regulator, with effective powers to protect and provide redress for the victims of abuse.

He gives the responsibility for establishing the system to the press, as now.

But he provides a crucial new guarantee which we have never had before. He builds in a role for the media regulator Ofcom, to ensure that the system that is established passes the test we would all want applied to it: that it is truly independent and provides effective protection for people like the McCanns and the Dowlers.

And to make this guarantee real, he recommends that both Ofcom’s role and these criteria of independence and effectiveness will be set out in statute, a law of this Parliament.

A truly independent regulation of the press, guaranteed by law.

Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals are measured, reasonable and proportionate.

We on this side unequivocally endorse both the principles set out and his central recommendations.

We support this new system of regulation. Does the Prime Minister agree?

We support Lord Justice Leveson’s view that Ofcom is the right body to carry out the task of recognition of the new regulator.

Does the Prime Minister agree?

We support Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal that the House should lay down in statute the role of Ofcom?

Does the Prime Minister agree?

We endorse Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal that the criteria any new regulatory body must meet should be set out in statute.

Does the Prime Minister agree?

Lord Justice Leveson has, I believe, made every effort to meet the concerns of the industry.

There will be some people who say that this will not work because the press will not co-operate.

Does he agree with me that this arrangement, as Lord Justice Leveson says, will work but only if the press now come forward to sign up to it and embrace it with genuine commitment?

If we cannot achieve a comprehensive system involving all major newspapers, Lord Justice Leveson sets out the necessary alternative: direct statutory regulation.

Does the Prime Minister agree that if the newspapers refuse to adopt the system proposed, this will be necessary and must be implemented?

Lord Justice Leveson has genuinely listened.

He has acted with the utmost responsibility.

Newspaper editors and proprietors should now do the same.

Lord Justice Leveson also reaches important conclusions on the need to prevent too much media influence ending up in one pair of hands. He proposes there should be continuous scrutiny of the degree of media plurality, and a lower cap than that provided by competition law.

Will the Prime Minister take this forward?

Lord Justice Leveson makes specific suggestions about greater transparency about meetings and contacts between politicians and the press. He says they should be considered “as an immediate need”. I agree, and I hope these can be taken forward too.

I welcome the Prime Minister’s offer of immediate cross-party talks on the implementation of the recommendations on press regulation.

These talks must be about implementing these recommendations, not whether we implement them.

These talks must:

Agree a swift timetable for implementation of these proposals.

Agree to legislate in the next session of Parliament starting in May 2013.

With a new system up and running at the latest by 2015.

And by the end of January of next year we should have an opportunity for the whole House to endorse and proceed with the Leveson proposals.

Does the Prime Minister agree?

We should move forward together, wholeheartedly, now.

After 70 years and 7 reports which have gone nowhere, now is the time to act.

The case is compelling.

The evidence is overwhelming.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make change the public can trust.

There can be no more last chance saloons.

And in acting, let us remember the words of Bob and Sally Dowler at Leveson:

“...There is nothing that can rectify the damage that has been done to our family... All we can hope for is a positive outcome from this Inquiry so that other families are not affected in the way we have been...”

On behalf of every decent British citizen who wants protection for people like the Dowlers.

Who wants a truly free press.

A press that can expose abuse of power without abusing its own.

We must act.

 

 

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals