Hacked Off welcomes cross-party agreement on Leveson

Posted: March 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Read the cross-party draft Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press here.

Hacked Off welcomes the cross-party agreement on implementing the Leveson recommendations on press self-regulation that was reached last night. We look forward to seeing Parliament finally have its say on these matters later this afternoon.

The Royal Charter that they have accepted will introduce a new system that will protect the freedom of the press and at the same time protect the public from the kinds of abuses that made the Leveson Inquiry necessary.

All parties are now clearly behind Leveson’s recommendations for an independent self-regulator that will deal fairly with complaints and will ensure that corrections are given due prominence. It will be able to mount effective investigations and where appropriate impose meaningful sanctions. It will offer an arbitration service that is free for the public to access, and there will be no press veto on who runs it.

This is what Lord Justice Leveson recommended in November after a long inquiry in which he heard the views of every relevant group. He did not recommend the use of Royal Charter and we believe Charter is second best, but we believe that this charter can effectively deliver his proposals on self-regulation.

The Charter will be protected by a minimal clause of statute. This protection is needed because royal charter bodies are normally closely overseen by the Privy Council, a committee of ministers. In other words, without that clause of statute, politicians would be free to meddle with the new self-regulation system.

We regret that it has taken four months to reach this point, but we are grateful to politicians of all of the leading parties for their efforts in bringing about this agreement. They have acted despite the scaremongering of powerful newspaper groups which had their say at the inquiry and didn’t like the outcome. Some papers have grossly misrepresented the Leveson Report and continue to do so.

We look forward now to the formal promulgation of the Royal Charter and the passing of the necessary protective clause of statute. After that, we hope the press will see the sense in participating fully in a system that will give them a chance to rebuild trust in newspaper journalism.

40 comments

  1. Neil riches - reply

    Well done to all at Hacked Off!!

    • Paul - reply

      Well, as of this moment (14.00, 18/3/13), it is not at all clear to me that there IS ‘cross-party agreement on Leveson’. Both sides are saying there is an agreement, but they don’t seem to agree what that agreement is!

      I’m sure the good folks at Hacked Off are well able to fight their corner, but it looks suspiciously like they are going to be badly let down in the end.

      The political stakes on this are massive with all sides frantically rowing back from their original positions – to keep the press at arms length in future. This is why Cameron especially is leaving the door slightly ajar, because he is going to need all the support he can get at the next election.

      BUT OVER AND ABOVE ALL THIS, it is simply unbelievable that all the options spoken of up to this point are for a voluntary opt-in arrangement. The Spectator has said all along it won’t be doing so, what happens if some, or all, others decide the same. We shall see what happens tonight, but this has all the makings of a farce.

    • Dave Gunn - reply

      You lot really are a silly misguided bunch. You’ve succeeded in introducing restraints which would be unacceptable in any other so called democracy. The only people to gain from this will be politicians, the rich and the well connected. You only have to look at some of your luminaries, Grant, Coogan et all to realise why they put their weight behind this. I’m a lot more hacked off than you are.

  2. Pat BIrd - reply

    Very well done the Hacked Off Group. It pays to keep pushing!

  3. Robert Anderson - reply

    This was never about an attack on the “free press” as many anti democratic elements have suggested. This is about the power of media magnates to destroy anyone they disagree with or take a dislike to and to attack anyone who challenges their unilateral actions and ultimately their political, economic and social agenda which they wish to foist on us the majority. I still think we have a long way to go before we make the so called “free press” and getting them to deal in facts rather than propaganda, libel and outright dam lies!

  4. Matthew Hopper - reply

    Well done to all of the Hacked Off campaign team – and of course your many supporters. It has been a long hard slog to get to this point but your tenacity has eventually paid off. My opinion has always been that independent regulation would in fact free up the press rather than shackle it. Good, thorough, ethical journalism will improve the quality of newspapers not diminish them.

  5. Douglas Brown - reply

    Whether the agreed way forward gets implemented is still up for question as the media are likely to fight tooth and nail for weaker oversight (much as they have now with the essentially in-house, Press Complaints Commission), however in the light of their recent activity, with more revelations still coming out about their lack of ethics in news gathering, the tide of public opinion is very much against them.

    In my business I deliver media training and work with people ranging from business executives to academics and charity workers – I have yet to come across anyone attending my workshops who comes with anything better than a jaundiced view of journalists and what to expect from them. Indeed many come with downright hostility and suspicion. Truthful and honest reporting of the facts is rarely at the top of their expectations and it would be a salutary experience I’m sure for journalists to attend one of my sessions to see how low their reputation lies with ordinary people.

    The problem for most journalists (who do act fairly and ethically) is they fail to understand that the extent to which the excessive behaviour of some of their brethren has tainted the whole profession, and that the only way to regain public confidence is to clearly demonstrate that decency, truth and honesty are at the heart of their trade. Having a robust regulator is one way to reassure the public that the beast can be domesticated.

    The truth is, straightforward honest journalists, even investigative journalists, have nothing to fear from tighter regulation and everything to gain – because once again their readers will have faith in what has been written, rather than viewing everything with cynicism.

    So hats off to Hacked off – not only have they done all those who have ben abused by journalistic excess a huge service, but they may well have done journalism itself a favour too by forcing the first steps towards it regaining public trust and support.

  6. Helena Meco - reply

    From somewhere of Spain, well done the Hacked Off Group!!! Thank you.

  7. louis edmondson - reply

    this is a fudge by Labour and the Lib Dems to APPEAR to be acting for the victims but actually keeping one eye on their mates in the Press when it comes to election time next time.

  8. The ‘Hacked Off’ campaign has shown a steadfast commitment to an accountable media – through the understanding that the community has a right to fair, equal, healthy and mature representation.
    The Media companies on the other hand have shown a steadfast commitment to distortion, extremism and sensationalism – as they represent business not community interests – and as a result have little motivation to change their conduct if it will impact on the sales.
    The verdict is still out on which ‘bottom line’ the government will choose to represent and support. The health and well being of the community (including the integrity to journalism), or the financial interests of huge companies which are willing to hack the phones of a dead school girl and pay off police to name a few of their practices – all in the name of making a profit.
    Ultimately, it comes down to every person (including members of government) taking responsibility for the quality of the world we want to live in through the choices we make. This includes what media we consume and support, and what principles we want guiding these various mediums which reach and impact billions of people. Do we want a media which will do anything for buck – with no care for the impact this has on individuals and the community – and with no recourse for this irresponsibility? Or do we want a media which is accountable and responsible for truly connecting people? I for one choose the latter as it makes for a more profitable world in the true sense of the word.
    Sarah Davis, founder and Director RMRC

  9. Steven Reid - reply

    Congratulations to all at Hacked Off. A monumental effort given the powerful interest groups ranged against any meaningful regulation of the UK’s delinquent press.

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  12. Gary - reply

    Doesn’t seem they have come to any agreement. I have now seen three different parties explaining what they see as having been agreed and they all seem to have been on different planets when the “cross party agreement” was made. Members of press agencies should be licensed like doctors and be struck off if they lie or break the law or generally actively stalk anybody.

  13. Robert Reynolds - reply

    Injured, exhausted, angered, inspired, dedicated. You made it happen!

    A chance not only to see justice, penalty and redress, but perhaps something of a preventative positive ‘change of culture’

    More hope for journalists, editors and managers, more able to speak-up in favour of ‘good journalism’, honest, decent, relevant, looking to solve problems, for a world not degraded but better

    We have to expect, whatever its successes, that in mere emulation of democracy, reverses will be suffered, without necessary limit, the urgent call still for agreed Equal Partnership

    For today, much rejoicing!

    And thanks

  14. James - reply

    Well done everyone at Hacked Off. Your campaign shows that dedication, organisation and hard work can bring about meaningful and inspirational change!

  15. Rahima Begum - reply

    What a journey we all have had with the whole hacking inquiry!! Congratulations to Hacked off, I understand you have worked very hard for this day to come.

  16. Patrick Bastow - reply

    Congratulations Hacked Off.

    The whole Levenson process demonstrated how powerful and out of control the UK press had become. Whilst this agreement is good news, what happens if the media barons decide not to voluntary agree to signing up to it? Where does it then leave the agreement?

    Its clear that the media barons like telling politicians what to do but not the other way round – even if its voluntary. The media barons ultimately want to be above law and set and manage there own rules. I think this could be the beginning of a longer battle.

  17. Angus Urquhart - reply

    Please subscribe me to your newsletter

  18. JOHN RAINE - reply

    Are the above supposed to be a representative cross-section of views on the recent farce?

    Hacked Off is a truly terrifying organisation – smug, hypocritical, devious and unprincipled. Why don’t you launch a national newspaper?

    • Dan - reply

      Hear, hear.
      Maybe they’ll let this one remain too. Awful good of them

  19. Chris - reply

    Sorry but I can not see why people are rejoicing, its true its better than nothing but it does not reflect the full report or in my opinion the spirit. Cameron didn’t want to upset his friends in the press. We now need to see all those emails from RB to Dave and see how close they are and to see what stories/ leaks the tories gave to her. It shouldn’t be over we must still fight the poisonous press and its barons and also the corrupt, nasty government who are hell bent in making the poor poorer and the rich richer with the help of the nasty side of the press. No rejoicing no just sadness we cant get the rights Britain deserves.

  20. Iain MacKenzie - reply

    Well done HackedOff. Contributing to an improvement for the general good, against the self-interest of one of the most powerful groups in British society who are addicted to and have been abusing their power, is quite an achievement. And as we know it has been achieved at quite a high personal cost to some of the higher profile individuals involved with HackedOff. THANK YOU for your efforts – particularly Hugh Grant.

  21. David Armstrong - reply

    Well done Hacked Off. Let’s not buy any papers that won’t accept the new complaints procedure. It’s all the usual suspects that are whinging today. As if our freedom was ever protected by them!

  22. John Morris - reply

    Congratulations to all of the Hacked Off team! You can be absolutely certain that Parliament would not have done it without your continuing pressure on behalf of the victims. But the battle is not yet over … I see that the right-wing press vultures are engaging lawyers to fight the Royal Charter as I type … this isn’t the end for them, but could be the beginning of the end, so be sure to maintain your pressure. Well done!

  23. Richard Baron - reply

    The Hacked Off campaigners have just sacrificed the essential liberty of all of us, for the sake of a little temporary security. To make it concrete, the victims of thalidomide (a long time ago) and of toxic waste dumping (more recently) – real victims, unlike celebrities – and all we taxpayers who were robbed by MPs’ expenses claims, depended on a tough, annoying, unregulated press. Stop rejoicing, Hacked Off, and hang your heads in shame.

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  25. Tim Bennett - reply

    Hope you’re proud of yourselves.

    This Charter does nothing to make phone hacking less likely.

    What it does do is attempt tocoerce every newspaper and group blog into state regulation.

    I wonder if you in hacked off (who bankrolls you by the way?) would submit your own published statements to the same level of scrutiny that you have sought to impose on others.

    Britain could once be proud of its free speech. We still have a proud tradition but you have stained the present.

    • Steve James - reply

      “… (who bankrolls you by the way?) ..”

      Exactly – if you want to talk about transparency you have to eat live sleep and breathe transparency. This will be a charter for the protection of to some degree the small if you like but will enable the great and the good to get away with murder just as has happened in France. I hear you have the proprietor of the Evening Standard on board as a donor – well done Hacked Off! Fighting free speech!

  26. Heino Vockrodt - reply

    To all you Hacked Off addicts: this whole thing will go terribly wrong and then…well the clue is in the name…

    This just in from somebody outside the ivory tower, Nigel Farage:

    “We must not create anything that restricts freedom

    In the light of the deal on a Royal Charter for the restriction of the press, Nigel Farage MEP, the UKIP leader has reiterated UKIP’s absolute opposition to any political interference with the operations of a free press.

    “For this government, or any bunch of so-called politicians to support the legislative underpinning of a voluntary agreement to oversee the press is a huge mistake, and the first step on a very slippery slope”.

    He pointed out that he is himself a victim of the hacking scandal,

    “My own phone was hacked, but that is neither here nor there. Things go wrong in the press, as they do in every walk of life and business, but we already have legal redress. Criminal actions are criminal actions, and are already covered by the law. Those of us in my position already have recourse to the law. We must not create anything that restricts freedom”.

    “The fact that in the proposed regulation all things and all people are covered, is very disturbing, in Schedule 4 it says that it covers any printed document that includes “ containing news-related material” or any “website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine). That is your blog, your forum, your twitter feed, your Facebook page, in fact almost the whole of contemporary discourse. The only place left to speak out will be in the pub… and they are closing at 10 a week due to a series of ill thought out government measures”.

    “The code is required to deal with “preventing the public from being seriously misled”. One man’s misleading information is another man’s factual account. It will be used to suppress proper investigative journalism that informs the public.”

    “And then, when this all goes terribly wrong, as it will, it will require at least two-thirds of the members of each House to vote through a motion to amend or dissolve the Charter. Our Constitution has always set itself against the entrenching of laws, yet here is the Political Class trying to set this thing in stone. One must ask why a simple majority no longer suffices.”

    He went on,

    “Control of the media should not now, or ever, be in any way the responsibility of self-interested politicians. Any Government intervention almost always fails: this will fail. It is about politicians creating a cozy world of silence where they can live and act in peace and behave without public accountability. It is a huge mistake and is laughable in the age of the Internet. It is just completely the wrong thing to do. This is a Charter for the Suppression of the Press, not for its regulation. UKIP will fight these proposals as hard as we can, particularly through the leadership of Lord Stevens of Ludgate in the House of Lords”.

  27. Gary Richards - reply

    how can people on here be saying well done,,this wil never come about the papers wont let it..theres no way of making them sign up except the idea of shame if they dont and fines ?? this is newspapers that are all ready paying out millions so the threat of having to pay more is pointless. if this is the best we can get then the whole thing has been a waste of time and at best very little will change but id put money on nothink will change its all smoke and mirrors..

  28. Heino Vockrodt - reply

    @Gary Richards: I agree with your sentiment but not your conclusion. Smoke & Mirrors it may be to you and me, but for the news media, this new process will be ridiculously complex. Any defence will take months…all the while they’re banned to write what they intended to in the first place. In the end, it will all but lead to self-censorship for reasons of avoidance of procedural grind.

    BTW…that’s a tried & tested strategy of this current lot…they are already curtailing freedom of speech – easily: they arrested all EDL members of a demonstration without reason (where, as usual, the leftist extremists were the ones setting the cars on fire), then released them on bail 2 hours later, but with bail conditions lasting for the next 6 months until trial. The trial of course will all but last 5 minutes…but in the meantime, they’ve managed to surpress freedom of speech AND the right to demonstrate for that duration.

    Now…the EDL are not my type of intellectual approach, but they’re honest normal people…so good for them. They’re not brilliant speakers but have a patriotic streak within them, stoicly almost…so who are we (or they) to curb their (our) freedom of speech? Even if we don’t like it?

    Exactly!

    Watch Rowan Atkinson make exactly that point in this speech in support for the amendment of Section 5:

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  31. Sorcha O'Shea - reply

    I’m interested to find out more about the campaign.

    Thanks,
    Sorcha

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  33. Christine Carr Bauer - reply

    Watching this develop on Sky News. I am always deeply offended by malicious attacks the press publishes on various people; both celebrities and private citizens. Calling a Labour MP’s father anti-British is not nice. Hacking into phone calls of private citizens is however illegal. Trials are in process in that regard as I write. Writing untrue articles about anyone is libel. Every year judgments are levied against those papers and/or writers found guilty of libel. So why the need of press regulation as pursued by Hacked Off? Self-regulated or otherwise? The press MUST remain absolutely free and no regulation should be created simply because some of us cannot cope with the awful things we read or have written about ourselves. I have been the target of negative press and it was unpleasant but it did not last and I survived intact. If we micromanage our society as if we are all china pieces in need of bunting, where are we? The press remains in a free society the one place where no one is immune; no group, no agency, no department, no political faction, no celebrity, no politician, no one. We have a free press not for the salacious news they publish but for the challenges they issue in our name whenever our governments commit acts to which we are opposed or which we know nothing of and would oppose if we knew. Without a press free to represent us, our governments will be free to operate at will. The press works for us even at their basest moments and is in the end the voice of the people.

  34. Stephen Round - reply

    Your Organisation bears all the familiar hallmarks of being another Establishment setup.just like all the others you are based in London run by Londoners supporting Royalty pretending support for us out in the sticks.standing up for us. Nothing of any remotely positive value comes to us from your location such organisations as you represent themselves to us they don’t represent our interests at all and that is not just The London Government… Every possible kind of organisation based on These Islands is involved and corrupt after witnessing 66 years of events on this Island I don’t believe that anything is allowed to exist on this Island unless it serves the Establishment!

  35. Iain MacKenzie - reply

    Well done Hacked Off. Well done for tenaciously exposing all the false arguments and outright lies the press (and their other media supporters) have been brazenly thrusting in our faces to protect their power to do whatever they want, no matter what the harm to other groups/individuals in society. They have long been so blinded by their hubris and addicted to their unregulated power that they actually believe that somehow they have equal, if not more, authority than parliament, the sovereign elected government of the people. Every other profession is regulated in our modern society but the press believe somehow that they should not be ! It is a state of mind not unlike that of a spoilt child.

  36. Edara Gopi Chand - reply

    Hats off to the Hacked Off campaign which reminds me of words of Mahatma Gandhi: “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

    The Leveson Recommendations are timely and relevant not only for the UK but most jurisdictions in the world where the public is fed up with the irresponsible Press and their bogus claims of ‘self-regulation’.

    Here in India, we are struggling with successive governments which are unabashedly media-appeasing to the extent of failing in bringing an independent regulator for broadacast media till date, not to speak of one for the so-called Fourth Estate.

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