J.K. Rowling: Victims of press abuses ‘hung out to dry’ by Cameron

Ahead of tomorrow’s parliamentary vote on press regulation,  author J.K. Rowling , a Core Participant in the Leveson inquiry and supporter of the Hacked Off campaign, issued the following statement today:

Some victims of press abuse felt that Lord Leveson did not go far enough; I disagree.  As an oft-banned writer, a devoted reader of Private Eye for a quarter of a century and as somebody who venerated the late great Paul Foot, I could not support anything that hampers the press’s ability to hold power to account.  Lord Leveson’s recommendations seemed reasonable and proportionate to me, their aim simply to curtail abuses of the press’s own power.

It goes without saying that what my family has been through – and I spent two hours re-living those experiences on the stand at the Inquiry – is less than nothing compared to what was meted out to the McCanns, the Watsons and the Dowlers: ordinary families who became newsworthy through terrible personal tragedies, or to Chris Jeffries, who was literally in the wrong place at the wrong time and found his life forever changed.

I believed David Cameron when he said that he would implement Leveson’s recommendations ‘unless they were bonkers’.  I did not see how he could back away, with honour, from words so bold and unequivocal.  Well, he has backed away, and I am one among many who feel they have been hung out to dry.  Monday’s vote will make history one way or another; I am merely one among many turning their eyes towards Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and hoping that they have the courage to do what Cameron promised, but which he failed to deliver.

J.K. Rowling’s comments follow statements by others who gave evidence to the Leveson inquiry, including:

Bob and Sally Dowler: ‘We are very disappointed to learn that Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals may not now be taken forward if the politicians choose to ignore the recommendations of LJ Leveson that were aimed at preventing the sort of abuses that we and so many others suffered.’

Kate and Gerry McCann: ‘We are in favour of the freedom of the press; an Independent Self-regulator will guarantee media freedom and independence. But we want our politicians to protect us, to stand up for the ordinary victims instead of siding with the wealthy and powerful.’

Christopher Jefferies: “I welcome tomorrow’s open and democratic parliamentary debate, which I hope will allow many misconceptions about Lord Leveson’s recommendations to be clarified, and lead to the establishment of an independent regulator, underpinned by statute, to monitor press self-regulation.’

Tomorrow’s vote could be our last chance to see real change in the way the press is regulated in this country. Please click here to email your MP and tell them that you want them to vote against David Cameron’s Royal Charter. This is the only way that the people who had their lives turned upside down by the press and who relived their ordeals at the Leveson Inquiry will feel that justice has been done.

21 Responses to “J.K. Rowling: Victims of press abuses ‘hung out to dry’ by Cameron”

  1. Hilary Shearing

    Here’s hoping that our politicians don’t go back on their word as Cameron has done.

    ‘And you, good yeoman. . . show us here the mettle of your pasture. . .
    The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit’

    Reply
  2. Birgitta Robinson

    Freedom of press is VERY important, however, as they were not able to regulate themselves and no other authority took them to task, it is not very likely they can do it now. In due coarse they will eventually trap it up again. To ruin peoples lives when they could do with support just to sell more papers is desplicable. Official people, corrupt companies who are supposed to represent UK and the people of UK and wrongdoings should clearly be investigated. Why keep spending all this money and time on the Leveson’s enquire if they totally ignore the result? How many u-turns can D Cameron get away with????
    Money talks, pm under pressure, where is the honour in their honourable title? It’s such a sad fact you don’t actually believe what the government and MP’s are saying any longer.

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  3. Andrew Rylah

    No-one is challenging the freedom of the press, nor its legitimate right to investigate wrongdoings. But Leveson was never about that. As we all know, it was about protecting the rights and privacy of ordinary people from intrusive, abusive and illegal forms of journalism. Despite his fine words, Cameron is hypocritically siding with his press friends against the general public. Without statutory backing, ‘press regulation’ is a contradiction in terms.

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  4. Judith Pinkos

    wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we had a free press which took it upon themselves to work for the common good in exposing corruption and supporting ordinary people? who wouldn’t want that? but the sad truth is that we don’t have it. far too many of our press barons, editors and journalists (not to mention police officers and politicians) have demonstrated all too clearly that they cannot be trusted. Time, high time, for there to be legal underpinning.

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  5. Peter Reynolds

    The only freedom that the Fleet St mafia is interested in is the freedom to lie, mislead and exploit.

    CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform supports your calls to implement Leveson because of the dreadful abuse you and others have suffered.

    We have our own reasons too – a disastrous UK drugs policy causing massive harm across our country, criminalising millions of citizens for using a substance many times less harmful than alcohol and denying millions more access to the medicine they need. A disastrous policy that our weak and corrupt politicians will not change becuase they fear the press which regularly publishes false science about cannabis in the interests of their alcohol advertisers and cheap sensationalism.

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  6. Everyone Equally

    When I wrote to my MP, via your website/link, I appended your suggested text with my own encapsulation – which I have copied & pasted here, and humbly offer for others to use likewise if they so wish: “PS.. My, your, and everyone’s very existence, is not a product for exploitation by ‘Disingenuous Bullies’. Our rights and freedoms – mine, yours and theirs – ARE EQUAL, and MUST BE protected EQUALLY, and CAN ONLY BE, by the very processes that exist to ensure THAT EQUALITY: i.e. democratic and legal – facilitated by you and your colleagues, AS OUR representatives, IN THAT capacity, OF ALL OF OUR rights and freedoms protected EQUALLY though AND by democracy AND its laws. Thank you.”

    Reply
  7. Everyone Equally

    When I wrote to my MP, via your website/link, I appended your suggested text with my own encapsulation – which I have copied & pasted here, and humbly offer for others to use likewise if they so wish: “PS.. My, your, and everyone’s very existence, is not a product for exploitation by ‘Disingenuous Bullies’. Our rights and freedoms – mine, yours and theirs – ARE EQUAL, and MUST BE protected EQUALLY, and CAN ONLY BE, by the very processes that exist to ensure THAT EQUALITY: i.e. democratic and legal – facilitated by you and your colleagues, AS OUR representatives, IN THAT capacity, OF ALL OF OUR rights and freedoms protected EQUALLY through AND by democracy AND its laws. Thank you.”

    Reply
  8. Steve Dunderdale

    There is no such thing as a free press in this country. The press is simply used by the rich and powerful to represent their own agenda. In return the press seek to manipulate the rich and powerful for their own agenda.

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    • Heino Vockrodt

      Oh, we do have a free press – all 5 of them, free to do whatever and side with whomever they want.

      What we need is press freedom! Break the media conglomerates up. And, whilst we’re at it, since “we” own the BBC, why can’t I – or another member of the public – sit in for that old man Paxman? That would be press freedom.

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  9. Richard

    Hi,

    Two things that I think we could do.

    We should insist that the Newpapers set up a Libel Fund. This would be available to any person who has reason to pursue redress from any Newspaper.

    Far better than the present Laws for the Rich that we have.

    Why is it that we cannot organise a “No Paper day” on which we all agree not to purchase Newspapers. Unless they are hit here it hurts nobody ever pays attention to the people who matter.

    Richard

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  10. Dan

    I’m guessing that Lord Justice Leveson must be thrilled by Cameron’s implication that he’s “bonkers”…?

    Reply
  11. Hoover

    Tomorrow is the last chance to undermine our reasonably free press.

    Don’t let’s miss this opportunity to destroy something people defended with their blood.

    Reply
  12. Neil Tonks

    It is at once amusing and terrifying to see public figures who thrive on publicity calling for ‘regulation’ (aka ‘censorship’) of the press. There are only two kinds of press: one which is free and one which is controlled by the State and is therefore the mouthpiece of the State. There is nothing in between. It is simply not possible to have “legally-backed regulation, independent of politicians”. It’s a contradiction in terms. The idea that there can be some kind of benevolent censor who will allow wrongdoing to be exposed while protecting the self-interest of the rich and famous is frankly preposterous. Do Ms Rowling and the others really believe that corruption such as the parliamentary expenses scandal would have been exposed by a press ‘regulated’ by a law enacted by politicians in parliament? Are they really that naïve?

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  13. Martin

    Once removed, press freedom will not be regained without a long and possibly fruitless struggle, it’s one thing to demand that journalists be held accountable in law, it’s quite another to demand that they tip-toe around people’s ‘feelings’, or that there are things that some people think are just ‘unacceptable’, who gets to decide what I get to read ? You ? The censorial impulse has been awakened by this brouhaha, and your ‘campaign’ is driving it forward, unwittingly or not. This whole nonsense about ‘taking offence’ has become an industry, the pretence that we are all so thin-skinned and pathetic that we can’t stand criticism, fair or unfair, it’s disgusting, sinister, and ultimately will result in those who wish to curb press freedom to ‘publish and be damned’ (if they lie or libel), will eventually realise, maybe, that they have also censored themselves, the next time you launch a criticism, some group will ‘take offence’, and may even claim ‘hate-speech’, that riciulous legislation that spares the feelings of people at the expense of freedom of expression being equal for all. All of this reminds me that, ignorance is relieved by education, but stupidity seems incurable.

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  14. Michael Taylor

    JS Mill in 1859.

    ‘The time, it is to be hoped, is gone by when any defence would be necessary of the “liberty of the press” as one of the securities against corrupt or tyrannical government. No argument, we may suppose, can now be needed, against permitting a legislature or an executive, not identified in interest with the people, to prescribe opinions to them, and determine what doctrines or what arguments they shall be allowed to hear. this aspect of the question, besides, has been so often and so triumphantly enforced by preceding writers, that it needs not be specially insisted on in this place’.

    But there again, JS Mill didn’t have the imagination to conjure up such monsters of vanity – yes, that’s you I’m talking about, Hugh Grant – who would be prepared to sacrifice liberty of the press out of personal inconvenience and pique.

    Hacked Off, you should be ashamed, deeply ashamed, of yourselves. Unless, of course, you simply wanted to encourage corrupt and tyrannical government. It means nothing to you of course, but I won’t forget and I won’t forgive. Damn you all.

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    • Martin Tillier

      Great comment, great quote, and I agree wholeheartedly with your summation Michael Taylor.

      Reply
  15. Real Media Real Change

    RMRC fully supports the government and community in the UK towards choosing an accountable and responsible press. Thank you ‘Hacked Off’ for dedicating focus and commitment to this end for this is for the benefit of society as a whole. This includes journalists as it brings integrity to their profession which they deserve as the majority of journalists do seek to inform and support the public through their reporting and investigation – the system they work in however and created by the Media companies, is focused firmly on number of sales. This drives the focus away from quality journalism whereby truth and respect is compromised and sensationalism fills the void. We need to take this seriously for the community deserves a higher quality of Media – and bringing measures to ensure accountability is a great move towards this.

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  16. Heino Vockrodt

    Oh well, never let a crisis go to waste…

    Remind me again why we have to curb freedom of speech in the press? (ironically, the BBC and SKY are not even included)

    Is it because Rupert Murdoch sided with Tony Blair in 97 and ‘made’ him PM – and later did the same thing with Cameron?
    Is it because Cameron sent 10-15 SMSs per day to Rebecca Whatshername? Or used one of her horses regularly?
    Is it because MPs, Ministers and top civil servants leak news early in the morning to make the headlines – whilst Assange is apparently a criminal?

    No it’s not. Those things will still be happening, and are – because that’s welcome.

    The process of phone hacking (actually only voicemail hacking – due to the stupidity of some to leave the default PIN 0000, or chose an easy PIN) which, after initially being used to find out who’s shagging Hugh Grant and vice versa, got out of hand and ended in the morally deplorable hacking and intrusions of the families named in the above article, should be made a criminal offence, nothing less and nothing more. Whoever does and did that should be in jail and their employers hit with hefty fines. It doesn’t need a Royal Charter.

    What we need is to make sure we’re not being manipulated with propaganda a la BBC in cases like Iraq, Syria, Libya. Global Warming, Wind Farms, Energy policies and and and…but NOBODY mentions that ANYWHERE!?

    Instead, we’re abolishing Free Speech! Nicely done, Leveson. You’ve used this ‘crisis’ well. Machiavelli & Orwell couldn’t have done it better.

    And how naive are the Rowling’s, McCann’s and Grant’s of this world? Are they so full of themselves that they think their petty little shenanigans are worthy of a Royal Charter?

    How narrow-minded and/or arrogant are they to not see that this will only be used to make billions in wars & energy etc. etc. away from public scrutiny?

    And the worst propaganda network of them all – the marxist Bolshevik Broadcasting Cooperative – will carry on as usual?

    It’s a joke – if it wasn’t so serious.

    So let me go and ‘criticise’ Islam & that Mohammed chap – will I be clamped down on (more than already is the case)? Can the Qatar sheiks then buy more of Britain? Are we imposing huge taxes on the coal that we already own, so that our power stations are switching to Qatar’s LNG? Who desperately want to finish their new pipeline through Syria? That’s why our taxes are funding Al Qaida terrorists to fight the current “regime”? And I’m just warming up…

    Will the editors of this blog even allow this post?

    I rest my case.

    We need a fully free press so that investigative journalists can inform the voting public on how they are at times sold out by the politicians who have lost any connection to the people. Voters should know, which monkeys need to go and which patriots need to go in.

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  17. Mike Wads

    Oh you frightened boobies. What do you think has been happening for the past 200 years.
    Do you think the press has represented anything other than “the establishment”? The occasional foray into criticism of the government has been a sop to those who think the press always supports them.
    I dont know what will happen under a new regulator and neither do you;although your fears appear to inform you of cataclysm.For a time the pendulum might swing in an unwelcome direction but come now do you believe the British spirit will be fooled? Do you really believe that the good people of these islands will fail to seek out and find the truth in the new technology era? Why do we need a new regulator then – to begin the process of throwing off the shackles of the old communication regimes. For one thing , the new regime will make a few wronged and innocent people feel a lot better and that includes Hugh Grant – you might not like him but he has as much right as you to privacy.
    No-one appears to query why our press has been dominated by foreigners for the past 100 years – it is just a game to them – the power game in which they are immune as they play with the lives of the innocent (and some of the guilty too).Maybe one day we might tackle that too – or do you boobies support the rights of freaks like Murdoch, Maxwell and Beaverbrook to put their foreign spin on our lives?

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  18. Martin

    The law is actually sufficient to the task without further addition, all that is needed is a national call-line for complaints that concern illegal activity by journalists or their colleagues or employers. The PCC, was only ever a nanny to the media, and was always run by cronies and yes men, but no matter, because they were/are just another layer of bureaucrats that we don’t need, anything that is short of criminal, must just be endured, such is the inevitable result of a completely free press, which is what we need. Voltaire would be horrified at the fact that there are certain words, phrases, and narratives, that are illegal to air, use, or publish in any format in the public sphere in Britain today ( think ”hate-speech” and other sinister fatuites that have neutered debate and argument), that in itself is a reproach to the public’s twisted sense of what the phrase freedom of expression actually entails in entirey. Majority rule, whether by vote or other means, is not democracy, anyone who thinks it is, needs to read up on the subject.

    Reply

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