PRESS RELEASE: VICTIMS OF PRESS ABUSE TO DELIVER 52,000 PAGES OF LEVESON EVIDENCE TO CULTURE SECRETARY IN PROTEST AGAINST CONSULTATION: “PRESS ABUSE VICTIMS CAN HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN THIS PROCESS”

Posted: January 9, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Victims of press abuse and members of the public who support Leveson reforms will protest against the Government’s consultation on implementation of Leveson, and are to personally deliver the 52,000 pages of evidence considered in the Leveson Report to the Culture Secretary from 12:00 today (January 9th).  They have also written to the Culture Secretary.  A copy of this letter is included below.

Dozens of whistles will also be blown at the protest, in recognition of all of the whistle-blowers who have risked their careers and livelihoods to bring to light the corruption and criminality that should be explored in Leveson Part Two.

International campaign group Avaaz has organised for campaigners dressed as Theresa May and Rupert Murdoch to shred the evidence of corruption at News International which would be examined in Leveson Part Two.

Commenting, Hacked Off Joint Executive Director Dr Evan Harris said,

“It is appalling that after everything we learned during the Leveson Inquiry, four years later we have the Government placing themselves at the heart of decisions about press regulation with this consultation on section 40.  Victims rightly recognise that the consultation is nothing more than an attempt to rerun the Leveson Inquiry, with a conflicted Government minister replacing an independent judge, secretive analysis of the responses replacing open evidence sessions, and the press able to distort and misrepresent without their responses being given any scrutiny.

“The Government should implement the recommendations of the judge without delay, and keep well and truly out of press regulation in future.”

Dr Evan Harris added, on Leveson Two:

“It is extraordinary that the press should be so desperate to suppress a Public Inquiry into corruption in the police force, but with the fact that the allegations of corruption also extend to newspaper corporations – in particular News International – it is no surprise that many of the newspapers who would be under investigations are fighting so irrationally against it.

“The need for Leveson Part Two has never been stronger, especially in the light of the leadership of News International as it was now plotting the takeover of Sky.  The Government has no excuse not to go through with Leveson Two immediately.”

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Photo and interview opportunities will be available at the protest, 12:00 – 13:00, DCMS.
  2. On the consultation:
    1.  – Victims believe that the Government’s consultation on section 40 and Leveson Two is an exercise intended to pander to the corporate press lobby to undo all of the progress since Leveson.  Victims further believe that the consultation document itself is biased.
    2. – Many of the victims of press abuse were thrust into the media spotlight after tragic circumstances, and gave evidence over 15 months to Lord Leveson reliving the traumas they suffered.  They believe this further consultation is a disgraceful attempt to force them to go through that all over again; an attempt by the Government to re-run the Leveson Inquiry, but with a conflicted Government Minister replacing an independent Judge.  That is the last way decisions over press regulation should be taken.
    3. – Victims were personally promised by the former Prime Minister that Leveson would be implemented, a promise which was put on record in the cross-party agreement and in statements to both Houses of Parliament.

 

Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press.  The Campaign works with victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.

 

PRESS ENQUIRIES: nathan@hackinginquiry.org or 07883 533052

 

The letter from press abuse victims to the Secretary of State:

 

Dear Secretary of State,

As you know, during 2011 and 2012 Justice Leveson carried out a public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press.  As part of that process victims of press abuse described their experiences, alongside the testimony of numerous industry representatives.

It was agreed that only a public inquiry was appropriate for settling matters of press regulation.

Among other reasons, this was because:

  1. A judge would not be subject to the same conflicting and corrupting pressures which politicians are consistently subject to by the power of the press.
  2. A range of witnesses could be called, allowed to give evidence in a forum appropriate and suitable to them, that anyone with something useful to add could have their views and experience considered, and that where witnesses provided responses which demanded further questions, these could be asked and evidence examined.
  3. There would be no great time or expenditure pressure, meaning qualified experts could sit on the panel and handle the questioning and process of the Inquiry, and the Inquiry could consider evidence from all sides of the debate in exhaustive detail.
  4. Only a Public Inquiry forum had the confidence of the victims of press abuse.

Leveson’s consequent report ran to more than 2000 pages.  It considered every testimony and set out recommendations transparently, with every argument of merit set out and considered in detail.

The Government enacted many of those recommendations on a cross-party basis, and from then on should have kept themselves out of the process of press regulation altogether to protect the freedom of the press from Government interference, or the threat of it.

But like previous Governments, this Government, perhaps sensing some leverage and power over the press, made the craven decision to intervene to suspend section 40 commencement.

Because the press didn’t like the answer the first time, the Government has now opted to repeat the process of the Leveson Inquiry.  But instead of an independent judge, a Government minister subject to conflicting pressure from the press will preside over the results.  Instead of an open and transparent forum, responses to the consultation are submitted secretly, will be considered in secret, and it is the Government’s discretion as to whether they are published at all.  Instead of evidence being examined and further questions asked of witnesses, the press are invited to respond without any further scrutiny to their often fake and distorted claims.

Press abuse victims can have no confidence in this process.  Many were forced to relive terrible traumas and tragedies in giving evidence at Leveson.  This shameless attempt to force them through that process all over again, because the Government want to trade press regulation policy for more favourable treatment in the national press, is unacceptable.

If the Secretary of State wishes to rerun the Leveson process which recommended section 40, she ought to consider the thousands of pages of evidence which Leveson considered – the only forum which victims had confidence in – and his transparently settled recommendations.  No approach less exhaustive or detailed would be satisfactory.

Please find enclosed the 52,000 pages of Leveson’s evidence.

Yours sincerely

 

 

ENDS