The 2,000-page document described an industry in which corruption and harassment – bordering on persecution – was commonplace, and concluded by recommending a new independent regulator, backed by legislation. Newspapers spoke with one voice, backing the need for reform but rejecting his legal framework to underpin the system, which they felt would undermine the freedom of the press to hold the powerful to account.
According to Philip Stephens in the Financial Times, “Lord Justice Leveson has tried to map a path by suggesting that a new system of regulation – independent of government and parliament – should be underpinned by legislation. This is not, as Mr Murdoch and his chums would have it, state regulation. The basic judgment here is right. But Lord Justice Leveson should have gone further in offering protections for the media when it is doing its proper job of holding to account those in positions of authority and influence.”
The Daily Telegraph’s leader echoed the criticism of the idea of a legally backed regulator, saying “It would be wrong to use bad behaviour by the minority as an excuse to introduce the first press statute since censorship laws were abolished in 1695. Whatever the judge hopes, this would be a slippery slope to state meddling. There are many good ideas put forward in the report – for instance, the proposal of cheap, effective arbitration to help victims get swift redress to their complaints – and these should form the basis of the new press regulation.”
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