Commenting on David Cameron’s decision to end cross-party talks on implementing the Leveson Report, Professor Brian Cathcart, Executive Director, Hacked Off said:
This is a shameless betrayal of the victims of press abuse.
It also raises two fingers to all those members of the public who wanted to see change after the Milly Dowler phone-hacking revelations two years ago.
The Prime Minister has walked away from talks in which other parties were trying desperately to accommodate his views on a Royal Charter.
Instead he has chosen to throw his lot in with powerful national newspaper groups, whose actions were condemned in the Leveson Report. His version of the Royal Charter would have paved the way for a regulatory system little different from the discredited Press Complaints Commission.
He allowed the newspapers to rewrite Leveson so much that they would have been able to pick and choose which complaints their self regulator dealt with and would have given the self regulator little power to tell a paper to give an apology or a correction due prominence.
Worse than that, the editors would have been able to write their own rules and handpick the people who ran the regulator.
This was just the sort of regime we had before Leveson and it was designed to protect the interests of editors and proprietors rather than the public.”
All recent polls show that around three-quarters of the public want effective press regulation, if necessary backed by law. We believe that most Parliamentarians feel the same way and we hope that now that the issue is finally going before Parliament we will see a clear statement that this once-in-a-generation-
opportunity is not going to be lost.
David Cameron is trying to portray this as an issue of press freedom. No serious person believes that the Leveson recommendations on press regulation pose any threat to freedom of expression.
Cameron is trying to raise a smokescreen to hide his dirty dealings behind closed doors with powerful press barons who don’t want to have to be accountable when their newspapers –to use Lord Justice Leveson’s words – ‘wreak havoc in the lives of innocent people’.