Following meetings this afternoon between victims of phone hacking and other press abuses and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, the leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, Professor Brian Cathcart, Director of Hacked Off said:
This was a helpful series of meetings between the three party leaders and some 25 people, some of them very well known to the public, who have suffered some of the most awful abuses at the hands of the press in recent years: cruelty, intrusion, misrepresentation and bullying.
I’d like to stress the vital and historic character of these meetings with the leaders. There is a danger in this debate that the voice of the victims can be lost. We hear the voice of the press very loudly, but the voice of the victims can be drowned out.
These were private meetings but we can say a few things about what was discussed.
Firstly, all of the leaders recognised the vital importance of hearing from those who have suffered press abuses and the usefulness of today’s meeting. Each of the party leaders recognised the great contribution that victims of press intrusion have made to the debate.
They all acknowledged that the key test of the outcome of the Leveson Inquiry is that victims of hacking and other abuses are satisfied that the systematic failures in press regulation are being properly addressed.
All of the leaders spoke of the importance of waiting for Lord Justice Leveson. That is the most important thing and it is a mistake to prejudge or debate the Leveson report before we know what it says.
That said they all recognised the urgent need for radical change in the way the press is regulated.
All of the leaders agreed that the best way forward to the Leveson recommendations is an all-party approach. They want to see the parties working together, rather than descending into party-political point scoring on this important issue.
We urged all three leaders to meet as soon as Leveson has reported in order to work together.
All three leaders were ready to stand up to the propaganda and smear campaigns of some newspapers, who are trying to undermine Leveson before it has even reported.
Finally, all of the leaders agreed that when Lord Justice Leveson has reported, there should be swift action. They rejected any suggestion that this would be something that could be kicked into the long grass or bogged down in long consultation procedures. They want to see action in this parliament and as soon as possible.
We have proposed to all of the leaders that when Lord Justice Leveson has reported, they meet the victims of press abuse again. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss the report in full at that later stage.
The victims of phone hacking and other press abuses who attended Wednesday’s meetings with the three party leaders included:
Christopher Jefferies, Bob Dowler, Kate McCann, Jacqui Hames, Mark Lewis, Joan Smith, Tom Rowland, Martin Hollins, Margaret Aspinall, John Tulloch, Paul Dadge, Zoe Margolis, Ed Blum, Mike Hollingsworth, Sue Roberts, Tricia Bernal, Phil Bernal, Ben Noakes, Amanda Ramsay and Michelle Milburn.