The “Free Speech Network” was formed by the big newspaper groups to defend the rights of large media corporations to lie and bully. It has been dormant for several years but has today demonstrated the desperation of its paymasters by paying for the publication a weak and desperate attack on the recommendations of the Leveson report.
“Leveson’s Illiberal Legacy” was funded by the Mail, the Telegraph and News UK. It is a rehash of discredited arguments advanced by an industry which continues to refuse to agree to independent and effective regulation. Once again, the newspapers who have led the campaign against human rights, rely on specious appeals to the European Convention to support their absurd suggestion that the Leveson system of independent press regulation somehow poses a threat to free speech and democracy.
Dr. Evan Harris, joint executive director of Hacked Off, commented;
“The decision of the big newspapers to pay for and publish this weak and desperate attack on the Leveson system betrays their recognition that the public will never accept the rejection of the Leveson Inquiry. Instead, it calls instead for politicians “to come to heel” and reject the Leveson Report, repeal the incentives and annul the Royal Charter.
“The document fails to provide any evidence that acceptance of the Leveson system by the press would have a negative impact on public interest journalism (like the MPs expenses story).
The paper attacks Lord Justice Leveson himself, the Leveson Inquiry, the witnesses, the independent assessors, the Royal Charter, the actions of the democratically elected Parliament, victims groups and NGOs. The report contains not a single word of criticism of the newspapers who were found to have ‘wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people’.
The time has come for decent editors and journalists to reject the propaganda of the newspaper executives and join the vast majority of the British public in supporting a truly independent system of press regulation to replace the sham of IPSO”