BRITAIN’S FREE PRESS IS DEAD. Anyone who thinks that Leveson’s ‘statutory underpinning,’ or the profession’s response to his proposal will serve the Public Interest should read the small print in his report. In the name of transparency: all whistle-blowers will be outed, and the ability to speak ‘Off The Record’ will no longer exist.
No more Chatham House. And no more ability to protect an informant’s identity. Leveson proposes formal ‘contracts’ between journalists and their sources to keep their identity secret – so that the authorities can demand to see whom has said what – and the source is obliged to hold a formal document that can be discovered by any physical search.
That is Leveson’s rear attack. From the front, Leveson demands that a new ‘independent regulator’ be established, whose members are decided by Ofcom – a political body that regulates the broadcasters.
Forget the spin. This enquiry was supposedly established to ensure that the Press got its house in order by ensuring a quick response to those legitimate claims by members of the public regarding misrepresentation and harassment by the Red Tops. And that issue has not been addressed.
Leveson has successfully buried the connection between the political parties and the Press Barons, and ensured that journalists can no longer pursue those investigations. And he offers the carrot of reduced libel costs to those titles signing up to his proposals when every paper is losing revenue to the Internet.
Everyone is talking about regulation. ‘Murdoch’s papers were out of control, so let’s beat the Press into submission.’ But who was it that exposed the Phone Hacking scandal? It was The Guardian that cast light on the issue – and it was the Police that decided to ignore its reports. Who was it that exposed the misreporting of the tabloids regarding Hillsborough? Once again it was the Press.
The Press does not require any form of regulation: THE PRESS HAS ALWAYS REGULATED ITSELF!
Every enquiry. Every major investigation. Every exposure of wrongdoing on a large scale that has involved the establishment has been brought about by the Press – and Leveson seeks to ensure that they can never do it again!
It sickens me to see politicians glibly scoring political points on journalistic wrongdoings that have been highlighted by the same Press that they attack. In not one single instance has the information they quote ever been gathered from their own investigations – or the police. They have overwhelmingly relied upon the revelations of journalists, shackled by the libel laws that they, themselves, imposed.
The Press is a bear pit. It respects no one and exists only to reveal the truth. It mauls politicians, the police, the establishment – and it also mauls itself. That is the price that Democracy and the Press pays to ensure that everyone has a voice. But Leveson proposes that only the rich, the famous, and the powerful will ever be heard again.
God Bless the Irish, their Guinness, and their whisky…
… Because I am finally signing off.