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‘Impossible’ Leveson Bill published

16 January 2013

Even though the Leveson talks are, by all accounts, progressing rather smoothly at present, there are still a few spanners stuck in the works here and there. Hacked Off has just published a consultation on all the bits of draft legislation on press regulation that are knocking about, and it includes the bill drafted by the government.

Though it had been shared with those involved in the talks about Leveson, this is the first time the legislation has made its way into the public domain, and you can read it in full here. It was drafted by the government to prove that statutory underpinning of press regulation would, in practice, be impossible. Hacked Off’s director Brian Cathcart claims the consultation underlines that ‘the legislation required to implement Leveson is simple and poses no threat to free speech’.

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But sources in the Culture, Media and Sport department, which drafted the legislation, point out that there is one problem with the consultation. Apparently the draft legislation is not the most up-to-date representation of the department’s thinking. A spokesperson says: ‘The draft bill is two months old and things have moved on a great deal since then.’

Is Leveson a fundamental threat to a free press? On Wednesday 30 January, the Spectator hosts a debate between advocates of statutory regulation Chris Bryant and Max Mosley and those against statute, Richard Littlejohn, Paul Staines and John Whittingdale. You can book tickets here.

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Show comments
  • telemachus

    Of course statutory regulation is needed. Opponents of the idea call themselves the “Free Speech Network”, and say the press, which exists to hold the state to account, must not be subject to state control. But the argument is obviously and hopelessly flawed. Journalism is not only about holding the state to account: it is a much broader and deeper endeavour addressing not only government but sport, fashion, food, film, relationships, health, science, work, religion and even law. Part of the press at least thinks it exists to report on individuals – where they go and what they wear. Holding government to account is only a small part of what journalism does. Crucially, the press exists among all these other things to hold private power to account. The state is not the only power in the land, nor power’s only abuser. A serious abuser of power over individuals, largely unchallenged by the press for obvious reasons, has been the press itself.

  • Fergus Pickering

    The long grass for Leveson and a good thing too. Expecting a judge to know about anything out in the world beyond his courts is a bit of a stretch. They are pig-ignorant old men who know nothing but the Law and they’ve forgotten most of that.

  • Hacked Off Hass

    DCMS Spokes is dissembling Isabel: Leveson hadn’t yet published two months ago, right? And the version given to Hacked Off – with permission to publish – was dated 17th Dec. So one month old at most.

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