Wednesday, June 29 2016

Leveson report delayed until late November

Amidst a flurry of articles by interested parties on the prospect of Lord Justice Leveson introducing statutory regulation of the press and a Lords debate last week on media standards and media regulation, The Guardian today reports that the Inquiry’s report has been delayed until the end of November.

From the Guardian:

“Leveson's conclusions and recommendations on the future of press regulation had been expected initially in October but got pushed back to November and now sources say it will be published at the end of the month.

“The exact timetable to which Leveson is working has been a closely guarded secret. He has always said he would report "in the autumn", leaving newspaper editors and proprietors on tenterhooks for the past two months.

““Speculation has been rife that the report could be put back to December but sources say Leveson wants to get it out before George Osborne's autumn statement on the economy on 5 December.

“There has been intense lobbying in the past few weeks by those in both sides of the debate on stricter press regulation. Some newspapers, notably the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, as well as politicians including Boris Johnson, have warned of dire consequences if statutory regulation were to be recommended by Leveson and taken up by David Cameron.

“The two papers are among those backing a new lobby group, Free Speech Network, which launched last week warning that an "officially regulated press is the glib, easy, dangerous solution".

“The Free Speech Network is opposing the Hacked Off campaign for tougher press regulation being fronted by Hugh Grant.

“Tory politicians also appear to be sharpening their knives for a battle over Leveson.”

Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, in an interview with Sky News gave clear indication of rejecting statutory regulation saying, “We should be very, very, very reluctant to take on legislation. It’s a balance and my view is that we should always balance in favour of a free press.”

Harriet Harman, in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr last Sunday said that self-regulation would be to return to “business as usual “ and that this had evidently “failed”.

“We don't want any obstruction on press freedom... I have always argued for press freedom.

"We may need a statute to underline a truly independent press freedom,"
she said.

You can read the Hansard report on the Lords debate here.

ENGAGE’s submission to the Leveson Inquiry and our recommendations to Lord Hunt on improving self-regulation of the press can be found here and here.

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