Well-judged and well-received: if Leveson is Santa, this is shaping up to be a wonderful Christmas

Our writer, a former Director of the Press Complaints Commission, declares himself happy with Leveson's report

Share
Related Topics

There was an almost festive air of anticipation in and outside the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in central London yesterday. Shouts by protesters, photos by sightseers. Everyone waiting to see what sort of parcel would be delivered by an elderly gentleman usually dressed in red and wearing a grey wig. Well, unlike at Christmas, it is hard to see much cause for disappointment with what he did bring with him.

On the one hand, Leveson had been asked to provide an answer to all of the victims of a sometime reckless and invasive press, so that they can feel that their ordeals were not in vain. On the other, there rests one of the crucial issues for any sophisticated democracy: how do you guarantee a free press?

 

His answer is well-judged, and – even amid the clatter of politicking that it is already occurring – we should not lose sight of the fact that there can be immediate agreement about most of the crucial issues.

There will be a new self-regulatory body. It will have powers of investigation and to impose fines. It will have, for the first time, a clear mandate to raise standards. These are the proposals already agreed by the newspaper industry, and indeed proposed some months ago by the Press Complaints Commission, which has already agreed to dissolve itself. They can be begun immediately, and should be.

As expected, it is the statutory underpinning that is exciting everybody. Leveson has stopped short of statutory regulation, but has suggested something that gives us self-regulation on statutory probation. The role of Ofcom would probably be uncontroversial in theory, but very hard to implement in practice. What happens if Ofcom judges the new regulator to have failed? What if the regulator fails to get everyone to join? Essentially, Leveson throws his hands up in the air.

There are other difficulties. The report has a section called “the relevance of the internet”. It is 792 words long. Leveson has shut his ears to the trumpeting elephant in the room: the online world that will make much of the structure he is proposing to be irrelevant in 10 years. And what of the PCC itself, of which I was once a director?

I was pleased the work of the staff, who have done a brilliant job over the years, has been recognised. Leveson himself appears to note that the PCC was quite good at the job it was given: handling complaints and dealing with pre-publication concerns. This work will continue in the new body, but it was never enough.

The new regulator will have a clear set of functions and powers. The industry should put aside its traditional squabbles and get it up and running.

React Now

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

Junior SQL DBA (SQL Server 2012, T-SQL, SSIS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior SQL DBA...

C# Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, MVC-4, HTML5) London

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Web Develop...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Scientists have discovered the perfect cheese for pizzas (it's mozzarella)  

Life of pie: Hard cheese for academics

Simmy Richman
The woman featured in the Better Together campaign's latest video  

Tea and no sympathy: The 'Better Together' campaign's mistake is to assume it knows how women think

Jane Merrick
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution