Following the announcement yesterday of Lord Justice Leveson’s report and the Prime Minister’s response, author J.K. Rowling, a Core Participant in the Leveson inquiry and supporter of the Hacked Off campaign, has released the following statement, in which she calls for people to add their voices to those of victims of press misconduct and sign the petition.
I am alarmed and dismayed that the Prime Minister appears to be backing away from assurances he made at the outset of the Leveson inquiry.
I thought long and hard about the possible consequences to my family of giving evidence and finally decided to do so because I have made every possible attempt to protect my children’s privacy under the present system, and failed. If I, who can afford the very best lawyers, cannot guarantee the privacy of those dearest to me, what hope did the Dowlers, the McCanns and the Watsons ever have of protecting their own children and their own good names? Those who have suffered the worst, most painful and least justifiable kinds of mistreatment at the hands of the press, people who have become newsworthy because of the press’s own errors or through unspeakable private tragedy, are those least likely to be able to defend themselves or to seek proper redress.
My understanding is that Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations would give everybody, whatever their degree of celebrity or their bank balance, a quick, cheap and effective way of holding the press to account. They would also protect the press against frivolous complaints and reduce costly lawsuits. At the moment, only those of us who can afford the immensely expensive, time-consuming and stressful services of the legal system are able to take a stand against serious invasions of privacy and even this offers little to no protection against the unjustified, insidious and often covert practises highlighted by the Leveson inquiry.
Without statutory underpinning Leveson’s recommendations will not work. We will be left with yet another voluntary system from which the press can walk away. If the Prime Minister did not wish to change the regulatory system even to the moderate, balanced and proportionate extent proposed by Lord Leveson, I am at a loss to understand why so much public money has been spent and why so many people have been asked to re-live extremely painful episodes on the stand in front of millions. Having taken David Cameron’s assurances in good faith at the outset of the inquiry he set up, I am merely one among many who feel duped and angry in its wake.
I hope that those who share similar concerns will speak up now and sign the Hacked Off petition. Mr. Cameron said that he would implement sensible recommendations: it is time for him to honour that commitment and join the other political leaders by supporting the Leveson recommendations in their entirety.