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’.
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.