The positive power of the press must be recognised

As a wholesale demolition of our trade, Lord Leveson's letter takes some beating

Related Topics

On my desk is a letter from the Leveson Inquiry. It sets out the likely criticisms Lord Justice Leveson will make of the newspaper industry when he presents his report. It's 116 pages long.

Every newspaper editor has received this document. It's not directed at them individually or their title – the comments are aimed at the entire press.

As a wholesale demolition of our trade, it takes some beating. I can't go into detail because the broadside is accompanied by heavy legal warnings: to divulge the contents would see me put in a cell and the key thrown away.

And, it must be said, it's only a draft. He's seeking comments and presumably he will take those on board and may amend and soften his stance. Still, as one person said who has also seen it, as an indicator of where the process may be heading, it's compelling.

I went public with my reaction on Radio 4 last week. I wasn't the first recipient to do so – on its website, The Guardian had earlier carried a piece quoting someone as saying that Leveson had thrown "the kitchen sink" at the industry. On The Media Show, I said the letter is "a damning indictment". While "some of the criticisms are certainly justified" others "raise eyebrows" and do not bear any relation to practices at this paper. Leveson, I said, was "loading a gun".

This provoked a statement from Leveson, saying he was "disappointed" that the contents of his letter were being discussed. In fact, I'd stayed clear of specifics. Others said I was naïve, that of course the letter was bound to be critical. I know that. I've covered enough official inquiries in my time as a reporter to know the score: they send out the proposed criticisms to those they're criticising and invite their comments. What took me aback was the sheer scale and breadth of the negativity. And, crucially, many of his points were not things this newspaper recognises.

Unless I'm mistaken, Lord Justice Leveson is not going to exclude The Independent from his findings. We didn't hack anyone's phone, but we're going to be treated just the same. I know press regulation needs strengthening and that the public has lost faith in the system. But I'm also aware that only a few journalists have been accused of accessing other people's voicemails, which prompted his inquiry, and that all newspapers and journalists are now in danger of being traduced.

We have to fight our corner, to make it plain that we've done nothing bad – and that, in common with much of the press, a lot of what we do is on the side of good. Without newspapers, all manner of scandals – from thalidomide to MPs' expenses, neither of which prompted public inquiries – would not have been exposed.

It's possible that Lord Justice Leveson may say so, but there's also the likelihood that anything positive he says will be lost in the clamour to condemn. That's why I said what I did, to put down a marker and get our voice heard.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living