Friday, 30 November 2012

Lord Leveson himself. Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practices, and Ethics of the Press. Executive Summary and Recommendations. Press Complaints Commission.

On 13 July 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Lord Leveson, a High Court Judge, as Chairman of a two-part Inquiry investigating the role of the press after the News International scandal into the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone on 21 March 2002.  

Lord Leveson opened the Hearings on 14 November 2011, saying:

“The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: Who guards the guardians?”

Lord Leveson’s Report. 29 November 2012

Lord Leveson’s Report proposes a new guard, a press regulatory body, backed by legislation, independent of serving editors, members of government or MPs, with powers to impose fines of up to £1 million. This body would replace the old guard and current press regulator, the Press Complaints Commission:

“The fundamental problem is that the PCC, despite having held itself out as a regulator, is not actually a regulator at all. In reality it is a complaints handling body…..In practice, the PCC has proved itself to be aligned with the interests of the press...”

Leveson singled out the regional press in particular and the majority of national newspapers for praise: “The British press – I repeat, all of it – serves the country very well for the vast majority of the time.”

“Certain parts of the press ride roughshod over others, both individuals and the public at large”… He criticised the press for “outrageous behaviour”….and for causing “real hardship” to members of the public.

Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations in the Leveson Report are just that, and not binding. He spoke the day after his Report was published, referring neatly to his original question at the opening of the Hearings just over a year ago “Who guards the guardians?”

“The ball now moves back into the politicians’ court: they must now decide who guards the guardians.”

The second part of the Leveson Inquiry is ongoing, regarding "The extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers".

                         Lord Justice Leveson
 Lord Leveson

The Right Honourable Lord Justice of Appeal of England and Wales and head of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales Sir Brian Henry Leveson PC QC was born in Liverpool on 22 June 1949.  He was educated at Liverpool College and read law at Merton College, Oxford. He initially practiced in Liverpool for 44 years. He was called to the Bar in 1970, taking silk in 1986.

Lord Leveson was the top prosecutor in 1995 in the case against Rosemary West, who received a life sentence, together with her husband Fred, for the murders of ten women including her own daughter Heather, 16, and stepdaughter Charmaine, 8.

In 2007 he told an interviewer "I go to Tescos, and I have teenage children who keep my feet on the ground. I don't live on a rough estate, but otherwise I lead a normal life".

In July of this year Lord Leveson was awarded an honorary degree from Liverpool John Moores University for his outstanding contribution to the Legal Profession in a service at the Anglican Cathedral. He told the new graduates that he had moved to London “with real misgivings”. Mindful of his work on the Inquiry he addressed the journalism graduates in particular, reminding them to respect the law and ethical boundaries.

Lord Justice Leveson is married to Lynne. They have three children, and live in London.