By Luke Geikie
Hacked Off and MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) co-sponsored a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference to discuss the need for independent press regulation and the importance of remedying Islamophobia which incites hatred in the press.
The event saw an extremely high turnout of conference delegates, who came to hear speakers including Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP, Naz Shah MP, Kevin Courtney (National Education Union), Professor Steve Barnett (Hacked Off Board Director) and MEND policy chief Isobel Ingham-Barrow.
The event opened with Diane Abbott, who started off by explaining that “there is no contradiction between press freedom and press regulation”.
She went on to talk about how the recommendations in the Leveson inquiry have still not been implemented and described the Government’s decision to ignore Leveson as a “dismissive approach to democracy”.
Ms Abbott went on to criticise IPSO; describing them as a “toothless” body, and adding that “the current system of press regulation in this country is not worthy of our democracy.”
The Shadow Home Secretary finished by talking about how she could not support a press which is only a “mouthpiece for the mighty”, and that she believed in “fair and accountable regulation.”
Naz Shah MP followed Ms Abbott and went into depth about how the absence of press regulation harms Muslims across the UK. Kevin Courtney from the NEU (National Education Union) expanded on that, talking about how media inaccuracy targets Muslims specifically. He then went on to talk about how press intrusion can affect children. Isobel Ingham Barrow (MEND) added to this, talking about how press abuse affects everyone and that Islamophobia should be investigated as part of the much-needed second part of the Leveson Inquiry.
Professor Steve Barnett, Hacked Off Director and Professor of Communications at Westminster University, talked about the inadequacy of the response to Leveson: “All newspapers have done since Leveson is paper over the cracks. That’s not good enough”.
Professor Barnett went on to talk about how “independent self-regulation still hasn’t happened”, despite Leveson’s recommendations, and about why the Leveson system is good for freedom of expression.
Professor Barnett finished by explaining the need for Leveson Part Two in finding out “where the buck stopped with phone hacking” and added that “If we work hard enough we are confident the right thing will be done and the Leveson model will be implemented.”
Hacked Off thanks MEND and the event’s speakers for their support.
Hacked Off is a cross-party campaign and was represented at both Labour and Conservative Party Conferences this year.