Tamsin Allen is a senior media lawyer, who acted for many of the early hacking claimants.
One of the ways ordinary people were affected was that one of the techniques that Nick uncovered was that reporters had been hacking phones to listen to the messages of celebrities. But they would then listen to the messages of the ordinary people who had left a message for the celebrity, and all of their messages.
Filmmaker Jenny Evans, who was Nick Davies’ researcher on the hacking story, was a key figure in helping to unearth information about the scandal.
She described the difficulties in getting the story broadcast coverage.
We were frustrated that it wasn’t a bigger story and that broadcasters weren’t talking about it.
We never found anyone to go on the record because they were scared.
And the people that ended up talking to me were the people that were bullied … and they really wanted to talk.
Nick Davies also confirmed this, adding,
Over and over again you find good people working in bad institutions.
But there are always people with a conscience [who want to speak].
I would sit with reporters that would say “yes of course everyone knew about phone hacking, but what about blagging?”
For example, one reporter gave an account of how a newspaper had persuaded the doctor of a very famous actress to hand over her private information.
And once reporters knew the actress had had two abortions there was glee in the newsroom, because they now owned her, she was theirs – and the newspaper would be able to use this to gain more stories.
Hardeep Matharu is the editor of the Byline Times, a publisher which scrutinises press wrongdoing and other forms of corruption.
I think those distortions exposed during phone hacking scandal, they are still around and journalism in this country is a massive power block which is still not being scrutinised.
There’s a market and appetite for independent media and Byline was born out of wanting an alternative to “mainstream media”, which is actually “establishment media”.
Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana, Head of Regulation at IMPRESS, talked about how IMPRESS was formed.
It’s the story of the third sector, of civil society coming together and deciding to organise based on independence and integrity – trying to design a new model going forward.
When we first started as a regulator, it was hard to get titles to sign on as there’s no commercial incentive, but they have voluntarily committed to that because they believe the new model of journalism is about accountability and public interest.
Large swathes of the independent media have now signed up.
Finally, we asked Professor Paul Wragg what he thinks about press ethics today.
We still have this culture that newspapers think that anyone who is vaguely well known is public property.
And we’re still seeing ordinary people appearing in newspapers and having their lives destroyed.
There’s still not an effective system to have their complaints redressed.
We need a regulator that actually has the power and structures that allows them to enforce the code which journalists have written, without meddling that goes on behind the scenes.
There’s a reason we are still talking about Leveson ten years later. We will still be having these conversations in the 2040’s and beyond until someone is prepared to stand up to the press.