I’m just having a read of the Executive Summary of the Leveson Report. I’m lazy and not even reading all of the summary, just the bit at the back, the summary of the recommendations. These are some thoughts as they come to me.
The members of the Board should be appointed by the same appointment panel that appoints the Chair, together with the Chair (once appointed), and should:
(a) be appointed by a fair and open process;
(b) comprise a majority of people who are independent of the press;
(c) include a sufficient number of people with experience of the industry who may include former editors and senior or academic journalists;
(d) not include any serving editor; and
(e) not include any serving member of the House of Commons or any member of the Government.
No serving editors on the board. This is good. Serving editors not needed on the board, especially if there is someone else on the board with experience and understanding. Along with not allowing any serving MP/Government member, this helps to not only help the organisation be but be seen to be independent of government and the industry.
The code must take into account the importance of freedom of speech, the interests of the public (including the public interest in detecting or exposing crime or serous impropriety, protecting public health and safety and preventing the public from being seriously misled) and the rights of individuals. Specifically, it must cover standards of:
(a) conduct, especially in relation to the treatment of other people in the process of obtaining material;
(b) appropriate respect for privacy where there is no sufficient public interest justification for breach and
(c) accuracy, and the need to avoid misrepresentation.
How can anyone argue with that? That is already what the PCC claims to have.
The Board should require, of those who subscribe, appropriate internal governance processes, transparency on what governance processes they have in place, and notice of any failures in compliance, together with details of steps taken to deal with failures in compliance.
More transparency to show the newspaper is taking the code seriously. This is A Good Thing, too.
The Board should require all those who subscribe to have an adequate and speedy complaint handling mechanism; it should encourage those who wish to complain to do so through that mechanism and should not receive complaints directly unless or until the internal complaints system has been engaged without the complaint being resolved in an appropriate time.
Again, this is how it should be. Many papers will say they already do have an effective complaints procedure, but many regularly drag the process of a simple correction out for months.
The Board should have the power (but not necessarily in all cases depending on the circumstances the duty) to hear complaints whoever they come from, whether personally and directly affected by the alleged breach, or a representative group affected by the alleged breach, or a third party seeking to ensure accuracy of published information. In the case of third party complaints the views of the party most closely involved should be taken into account.
This is exactly what media-watchers have been calling for for years – the ability to have the papers given a bollocking when they smear whole swathes of people. The PCC didn’t take complaint unless it was from someone directly affected, which left the papers free to demonise whole communities.
It should continue to be the case that complainants are able to bring complaints free of charge.
Another Good Thing.
In relation to complaints, the Board should have the power to direct appropriate remedial action for breach of standards and the publication of corrections and apologies. Although remedies are essentially about correcting the record for individuals, the power to require a correction and an apology must apply equally in relation to individual standards breaches (which the Board has accepted) and to groups of people (or matters of fact) where there is no single identifiable individual who has been affected.
Again, groups of people. Currently, if you’re not named you can’t complain.
The power to direct the nature, extent and placement of apologies should lie with the Board.
No more burying an apology in the small print on page 94.
The Board should not have the power to prevent publication of any material, by anyone, at any time although (in its discretion) it should be able to offer a service of advice to editors of subscribing publications relating to code compliance which editors, in their discretion, can deploy in civil proceedings arising out of publication.
There. The new body “should not have the power to prevent publication of any material“. There is no pre-publication clearing of stories required, the status quo is maintained. The editor can get advice, but essentially would still be able to publish anything and then defend it afterwards. There will be no censorship.
The Board, being an independent self-regulatory body, should have authority to examine issues on its own initiative and have sufficient powers to carry out investigations both into suspected serious or systemic breaches of the code and failures to comply with directions of the Board. Those who subscribe must be required to cooperate with any such investigation.
The body could instigate investigations on it’s own accord. The PCC doesn’t investigate. It mediated. Badly.
The Board should have the power to impose appropriate and proportionate sanctions, (including financial sanctions up to 1% of turnover with a maximum of £1m), on any subscriber found to be responsible for serious or systemic breaches of the standards code or governance requirements of the body. The sanctions that should be available should include power to require publication of corrections, if the breaches relate to accuracy, or apologies if the breaches relate to other provisions of the code.
A regulator that has the power to impose penalties that actually have bite? That’ll be nice. Rather than just asking meekly to have an apology published, in words that don’t actually accept responsibility.
The Board should provide an arbitral process in relation to civil legal claims against subscribers, drawing on independent legal experts of high reputation and ability on a cost-only basis to the subscribing member. The process should be fair, quick and inexpensive, inquisitorial and free for complainants to use (save for a power to make an adverse order for the costs of the arbitrator if proceedings are frivolous or vexatious). The arbitrator must have the power to hold hearings where necessary but, equally, to dispense with them where it is not necessary. The process must have a system to allow frivolous or vexatious claims to be struck out at an early stage.
The body needs to be able to make it’s own decisions on whether a complaint is vexatious or frivolous. This is especially important if complaints are to be taken from third parties.
The role of recognition body, that is to say, to recognise and certify that any particular body satisfies (and, on review, continues to satisfy) the requirements set out in law should fall on Ofcom. A less attractive alternative (on the basis that any individual will not have the requisite authority or experience and will only be occasionally be required to fulfil these functions) is for the appointment of an independent Recognition Commissioner supported by officials at Ofcom.
Ofcom to certify that the regulator is independent. If Ofcom is good enough to ensure broadcast behaves itself, then it should be good enough to ensure the regulator is independent.
It should be possible for the recognition body to recognise more than one regulatory body, should more than one seek recognition and meet the criteria, although this is not an outcome to be advocated and, should it be necessary for that step to be taken, would represent a failure on the part of the industry.
Don’t like the regulator? Set up your own. The press are not stuck with a single regulatory body.
In passing legislation to identify the legitimate requirements to be met by an independent regulator organised by the press, and to provide for a process of recognition and review of whether those requirements are and continue to be met, the law should also place an explicit duty on the Government to uphold and protect the freedom of the press.
There. There it is. This paragraph is the engagement ring in the dogturd. This paragraph states what the legislation is meant to do – identify what makes an independent regulator, and enable it to have effective sanctions. Not dictate what the press can and cannot do, what it can and cannot publish. That is left to the regulator itself to decide, as long as the body is independent of the industry.
How much more of a safe guard does the industry want than for the law itself to state that the Government
needs has no choice but to protect the freedom of the press. It’s there, in black and white, the government wouldn’t be able to muzzle the press. What else does the industry want?
A regulatory body should establish a whistleblowing hotline for those who feel that they are being asked to do things which are contrary to the code.
The industry generally and a regulatory body in particular should consider requiring its members to include in the employment or service contracts with journalists a clause to the effect that no disciplinary action would be taken against a journalist as a result of a refusal to act in a manner which is contrary to the code of practice.
And there’s protection for the journalists themselves.
Well, so far so good. It gets my vote. An independent regulator that doesn’t have to answer to anyone except to Ofcom to ensure it is independent and not on what it does. A regulator that has the ability to impose proper sanctions. A regulator that can launch it’s own investigations. A regulator that is free to complainants, but can tell people to sod off if they’re complaints are not serious. A regulator that will have a law in place ensuring The Freedom of The Press.
The Government, legislating the right of journalists to investigate it. Surely that’s a journalists’ wet dream?
Exec Summary here
The Full Report here
Meddling Brussels bureaucrats want to make modified and most classic cars illegal under radical reforms which would affect millions of British drivers.
The European Commission has proposed a shake-up of the MOT which could cost thousands of jobs and cripple the industry that deals with modifying cars.
Under its plans, all vehicles would have to remain identical to the specification they were in when they left the factory – which would mean classic cars could not even be updated with safer equipment.
The proposed new rules would mean any modifications – from different windscreen wipers to newer brake lights – would mean the car would automatically fail its MOT test.
says the Daily Mail.
Cars with any kind of modification could fail an MoT if new EU rules get the green light from member states, a motoring group is warning.
The Association of Car Enthusiasts (ACE) says even aftermarket wheels or stereos would bring a fail, and mean cars would have to undergo costly, time-consuming vehicle approval testing before they could be considered roadworthy.
The Auto Express tells us.
This is outragous. How dare those meddling Eurocrats tell us what we do with our motors?
This is what the European Commission actually says though…
Reports in the press that the European Commission has proposed to make modifications to cars illegal, or to ban classic cars unless they are unchanged since manufacture are entirely wrong.
The Commission’s proposals would not, if agreed by the Member States and the European Parliament, make any difference to the current situation regarding MOT testing in the UK except to make most classic cars more than 30 years old exempt from testing if they are not used day-to-day on the roads.
All other cars would remain subject to roadworthiness testing, just as they are now. Whether or not they have been modified is not of itself relevant: what counts is whether they are safe and that is what is assessed by MOT tests in the UK and by the equivalent tests elsewhere.
So feel free to modify, update and upgade away, petrolheads. But if they’re not planning on banning modifications what are they doing with MOTs?
What the proposals will do is require all Member States to bring their road worthiness tests up to a certain level of rigour, already applied in the UK : for example, motorbikes will need to be tested regularly everywhere, as they are already in the UK. This will make driving safer for UK drivers at home and abroad.
Read that again. Go on.
Yes, they want to bring the European standard for roadworthyness up to the level the UK already apply. It won’t affect us because it is our standard they want to emulate across the other EU countries.
A bit of sanity from Europe that the papers could use to blow our own trumpet and the papers get it wrong in the most spectacular style, with plenty of quotes from the government and motoring organisations, but nothing from the European Commission.
Instead of being proud that we have the most stringent safety testing for vehicles, the papers create an opportunity from nowhere to stir things up again.
Trevor Kavanagh (also freezepaged here)…
THE Sun is not a “swamp” that needs draining. Related StoriesThreat to free Press alert
PROBE into practices of papers must not kill free Press, Culture Sec warns
Nor are those other great News International titles, The Times and The Sunday Times.
Maybe not. Lets see where the police investigation leads, shall we? After all, all this phone hacking and poor journalistic practices was, as someone from News International once said, one rogue reporter. And yet here we are.
Yet in what would at any other time cause uproar in Parliament and among civil liberty and human rights campaigners, its journalists are being treated like members of an organised crime gang.
I think people are quite justified in thinking News International and it’s news titles are an organised gang. What are the charges so far? Intercepting private messages. Intimidation. Coersion, sometimes bordering on blackmail. Bullying. Paying the police. Sounds not quite straight up law abiding to me.
They are subjects of the biggest police operation in British criminal history — bigger even than the Pan Am Lockerbie murder probe.
Maybe that’s because of the period of time the investigation covers and the amount of victims, which is more than the Pan Am bombing produced.
Major crime investigations are on hold as 171 police are drafted in to run three separate operations.
In one raid, two officers revealed they had been pulled off an elite 11-man anti-terror squad trying to protect the Olympics from a mass suicide attack.
You’ll excuse me if I don’t take Trevor seriously about this mass suicide attack. Not only has The Sun had dodgy sources in the past, but if this was such a big deal, a mass suicide bombing at the Olympics, don’t you think it would’ve been mentioned in the news already? It would’ve been too good for the press to pass up. They love a good scaremongering. If this mass bombing is real, and the press have kept it quiet so the bombers aren’t given the tip-off, then Trevor has just given the bombers the tip-off. Either way, Nice one Trevor, you cock.
Instead of being called in for questioning, 30 journalists have been needlessly dragged from their beds in dawn raids, arrested and held in police cells while their homes are ransacked.
Yeah, maybe the dawn raids were a bit over the top. I don’t know what the police were expecting if they’d just knocked politely at the door. Journalists hurriedly flushing notebooks down the toilet? But again, The Sun has been one of the loudest shouting that the police don’t do enough and are too soft. You reap what you sow.
Wives and children have been humiliated as up to 20 officers at a time rip up floorboards and sift through intimate possessions, love letters and entirely private documents.
Hmm. That sounds famliar. Pot, meet kettle.
At least the journalists that have had their private stuff riffled through are being accused of more than just screwing someone they’re not married to.
It is important that we do not jump to conclusions.
Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted.
Jesus fucking christ. Listen to him. Has he no idea what his paper is like? Yes, Trevor. It is important not to jump to conclusions.
Yet all are now on open-ended police bail, their lives disrupted and their careers on hold and potentially ruined.
Is it any surprise that Britain has dropped nine places to 28th, behind ex-Soviet bloc states Poland, Estonia and Slovakia, in the international Freedom of Speech league table?
This is nothing to do with free speech. This is about breaking the law with no justifiable defence. The press are just as free to print whatever they want. They can even break the law to get information, as long as it is in the public interest defence. The press is so free to print lies and rubbish by their columinists even the PCC, the supposed regulator, doesn’t think it’s worth pulling them up on it.
So when the police get matters so far out of proportion, we are entitled to ask: Who polices the police?
Well, it certainly shouldn’t be the certain parts of the press, especially when those parts are being investigated for links so close it could be considered the police forces PR department.
Why should questions about police procedures be handled solely by the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is notoriously reluctant to rule against police?
Oh, Trevors noticed then. Once again, it’s been obvious to nearly everyone for a long time but somehow, Trvors only just thought to mention it now his shit has hit the fan.
This inquiry has even begun to disturb those of our critics who have been at least partly responsible for what many see as a “witch-hunt”.
Quite right. We mustn’t presume guilty unless proven. That would be quite wrong, wouldn’t it Trevor?
The Guardian has raised questions about freedom of the Press. Its media analyst, Steve Hewlett, says that when it comes to paying for stories, no newspaper — “tabloid or otherwise” — is exempt.
Maybe not, so those sources that are paid need to be carefully checked. Not just The Suns’ but all the papers. The Sun and Murdochs’ titles may be the titles that people are showing most glee towards when there are arrests but it is the industry that is being investigated. Trevor shouldn’t take it so personally.
Yet in a quite extraordinary assumption of power, police are able to impose conditions not unlike those applied to suspected terrorists.
Under the draconian terms of police bail, many journalists are barred from speaking to each other. They are treated like threats to national security. And there is no end in sight to their ordeal.
And who’s been calling for more draconian police powers…?
Their alleged crimes? To act as journalists have acted on all newspapers through the ages, unearthing stories that shape our lives, often obstructed by those who prefer to operate behind closed doors.
No, their alleged crimes are illegally listening to voicemails and paying police officers for information, amongst other things. In a lot of cases the journalists aren’t unearthing stories that shape our lives, they are puting a spin on them to manipulate the public to get what their proprietors want from the ruling elite of this country. The press, especially the tabloids don’t just report the facts and let us decide if something is right or wrong. They are not just happy with putting their views across through the editorial columns, they have put they’re own agendas into the stories. ommitting details that contradict them, exagerating some aspects and making complete fabrications, as detailed in the plethora of blogs and websites that are dedicated to shouting “bullshit” at them whenever it appears.
The rich and powerful have and always will try to obfuscate and hide things that are damaging or illegal that could be inconvenient to them and quest for more money and power, that is why the public defence clause is there. No one is denying the press need that clause, but they have made it harder and harder to defend when they do the normally illegal information gathering techniques on fucking celebrities.
These stories sometimes involve whistleblowers. Sometimes money changes hands. This has been standard procedure as long as newspapers have existed, here and abroad.
There is nothing disreputable about it. And, as far as we know at this point, nothing illegal.
Money changes hands. Fine, but the checking of it needs to be a fuck of lot more stringent. Just because something has been ‘standard procedure’ for a long time doesn’t mean it shouldn’t come to a stop. Our standard procedure was to hang criminals. In the USA segragation was standard procedure. Tradition is no reason to keep something. Ever.
Without good sources no newspaper could uncover scandals in the public interest.
Certainly, the world would never have learned about the expenses scandal that landed so many politicians in jail.
Very true. The press can get it right, just like a stopped clock is right twice a day. A couple of good stories does not justify the amount of shit raking and filth that the press make us swim in the rest of the time, though.
Which brings us to a sensitive domestic issue within the News International “family” which we cannot ignore.
Using ‘Family’ does bring to mind, rather than a group of companies, a crime ‘family’. I’d have thought Trevor would want to avoid that.
It is absolutely right the company co-operates with police on inquiries ranging from phone and computer hacking to illegal payments.
We are right to hand over any evidence — emails, expense claims, memos — that might aid those inquiries.
As it should, although ‘helping the police with their enquiries is not usually seen in such a good light by the press.
It is right that those inquiries are carried out separately from the journalists under investigation. Nobody on The Sun was aware in advance that ten colleagues were about to be nabbed.
Why should anybody be told of immenent arrests. What has that got to do with anything?
It is also important our parent company, News Corp, protects its reputation in the United States and the interests of its shareholders. But some of the greatest legends in Fleet Street have been held, at least on the basis of evidence so far revealed, for simply doing their jobs as journalists on behalf of the company.
Yes, Trevor. Protecting News Corps interests. That’d be why the original investigation, completely swallowed by the PCC and the Police, to which Nes Intl has close links, went for the cover of a lone rogue reporter. Get the situation closed down as quickly as possible. Move on. Carry on. This is bigger than bloody money. This is about the poisonong of the well in which we all drink. And now The Sun and other companies in it group are not liking it one bit now it has to drink it’s own piss.
And those journalists just doing their job? Maybe, just maybe there is evidence that hasn’t been passed to you. Or they could be innocent of everything. Lets see shall we and not jump to conclusions, as you seem to be so creful of all of a sudden.
Meanwhile, a huge operation driven by politicians threatens the very foundations of a free Press.
We have three separate police inquiries — Elveden, Weeting and Tuleta.
There is a Parliamentary inquiry and of course the free-ranging Leveson Inquiry into newspaper practices.
This ‘operation’ isn’t going to threaten stop a free press. If it does, something would’ve going very, very wrong. What it will do, hopefully, is create a better press. One that doesn’t trade favours with the police, one that doesn’t scare the shit out of people in case they come to the press’ attention, for the right or wrong reasons. A press that can still investigate stories using shady tactics, but does so only for important stories.
The field is open to almost anyone with a grievance to deliver their two cents’ worth, even touching unrelated issues such as Page Three.
The process, costing tens of millions of pounds, threatens to roll on for at least another year and probably two.
People affected by the press should be able to give their view. After all, many of them, even some celebrities have been worried about what sort of dirt the tabloids would dig up on them, that is nobodies business, if they spoke out.
If Trevor is so concerned about the cost then maybe his industry, should contribute towards it. After all it is the behaviour of his industry that has made something of this scale necessary.
Interestingly, nothing on this scale is envisaged for the banking industry which has brought the nation to the brink of bankruptcy.
That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be something like this for the banking industry. But is Trevor asking for the bankers to be treated like the press or the for press to get off as lightly as the bankers, I wonder…
Before it is too late, should we not be asking where all this is likely to lead? Will we have a better Press?
Or a Press that has been bullied by politicians into delivering what they, not the readers, think fit?
As opposed to what we have now? The editors world view imposed on every story so that it fits their agenda rather than delivering news, accurately and truthfully and letting their readers make up their mind?
At least with a politician they can be voted out.
You’ve heard of the Leveson Enquiry, haven’t you? Lord Justice Leveson is looking into pretty much all aspects of the press, from the practices and ethics to the regulation.
The press are gonna do all they can to make sure Leveson gets the impression that things aren’t too bad, actually. “We’re better than we used to be” they’ll say. “It was only the one rogue reporter, well maybe two.”
“We always strive for accuracy” the press will purr seductively in the good Lords’ ear, “and we always, always correct mistakes.”
You know that’s not the truth, though. What Leveson needs is a counter balance. There are already some organisations doing that. Hacked Off and FullFact.org are two of them, and they need our help.
This page on the FullFact site will give you a guide as to what the Leveson Inquiry is after. Basically, if you or anybody know or care about has been affected by the press or even if you just have an opinion about how things do or should work, get in touch with them:
or by post
Leveson Inquiry Team
Royal Courts of Justice
It would be better by email, if you could, though.
Our press needs YOU!