The British press has had numerous last chances to put its house in order.
In 1993 The Calcutt Review concluded that the self-regulating Press Complaints Commission was "not - an effective regulator of the press". It recommended a Press Complaints Tribunal backed by statute. The then Tory Government failed to implement this.
In November 2006, the then Labour Government was eventually presented with the findings of the Operation Motorman report that catalogued more than 3000 breaches of data protection laws. Despite the tough recommendations in the report, no action was taken by Prime Minister Tony Blair, nor by Gordon Brown's administration which took over in June 2007. At the time News International supported Labour.
Unlike in Scotland, as Lord Justice Leveson pointed out, all Westminster governments have too cosy a relationship with numerous press barons and are unlikely to act. In Scotland, given our different laws, it is important that all political parties at Holyrood put aside petty point scoring and introduce independent regulation with a provision for errors of fact and political misinformation to be corrected and given the same prominence as the original offence.
Following the Leveson report, with almost unseemly haste certain politicians rush to call for the introduction of some as-yet-undrafted and thus unknown legislation to underpin independent regulation of the press. Why stop there? I wonder what their attitude would be if someone had the temerity to call for similar regulation, with underpinning legislation, on the freedom they enjoy themselves under Parliamentary privilege, or do they consider some (themselves) are more equal than others?
10 Solomon's View,
Your leader, "Regulation without muzzling the press" (November 30), highlights legitimate concerns on both sides of the contentious issue of "statutory underpinning". It's a pity that other editors and politicians have been less circumspect.
One of the chilling aspects arising from others' reactions to the Leveson report is the blurring of the difference between "the public interest" and the public's interest by some journalists, having more to do with pandering to salacious curiosity, sometimes regardless of the truth, in order to boost or maintain circulation.
This was exemplified by the ex-News International reporter, interviewed by Hugh Grant, who expressed some contrition at a couple of stories he had pursued but ultimately justified himself by maintaining that if the public are interested that must by definition be "in the public interest".
In order to call such cavalier attitudes to account, whether in respect of public figures or ordinary citizens, what credible alternative could there be to some element of statutory back-up?
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