Top Ten Myths About Leveson

There are lies, damned lies and then there are Leveson stories in the British newspapers. Sections of the press have been engaged in a systematic and transparently self-serving campaign to undermine the credibility of Lord Justice Leveson’s report, a campaign which began even before it was published.

It’s a catalogue of smears, half-truths and misreports that the legendary former Sunday Times editor, Sir Harold Evans, described as a gross distortion of the truth.

We can expect the myths to continue to tumble out of the cynical propaganda machine rubbishing Leveson, directed by the editors and proprietors of some national newspapers. For our part, Hacked Off promises to continue to debunk them whenever they arise.

Here are the top ten fictions:

A shadowy network of politicians, businesspeople and campaigners skewed the objectivity and impartiality of the Leveson Report A baseless slur on a blameless individual. The Mail’s 12-page hatchet job on Sir David Bell, a former Chair of the FT and respected member of the Leveson team was a mix of spurious innuendo and groundless guilt-by-association, as exposed here, here and here.
Leveson will stop whistleblowers going to the media Nonsense. Leveson refers to whistleblowing in only two contexts: the recommendation that journalists should be able to blow the whistle on unscrupulous editors (a proposal from the NUJ) and the issue of police officers contacting the media. Leveson says it is ‘both legitimate and justifiable’ for whistleblowers in the police service to go to the press.
If Leveson had been implemented, then it would have been impossible to report Cash for Questions, MPs’ expenses, etc Scaremongering. If Leveson’s proposals did any such thing, then Hacked Off and its supporters (who include investigative journalists) would never support them. Neither would the National Union of Journalists. The suggestions – which the Ministry of Justice will consult on – are intended to protect ordinary people. If they impede serious journalism, it’s inconceivable that they could become law.
Leveson could lead to state control of the press (and here) Alarmist and illogical. During the inquiry, Leveson was at pains to point out – on an almost daily basis – that he believes in a vigorous free press. No one who gave evidence thought that state control was a good idea. Nowhere in the report did Leveson recommend politicians should have power over newspapers. On the contrary, he favoured an independent self-regulator, overseen by a recognition body acting on behalf of the public. If a future authoritarian government wants to control the media, they will do it anyway, regardless of the existence of a regulator whose independence from politicians is guaranteed in law.
Leveson will enable the police to force journalists to hand over documents and reveal their sources Wrong. Leveson did not recommend making it easier for police to seize documents from journalists. He said he had only heard one side of the story and gently suggested to the Home Office that it should consider getting all the facts. This the Home Office has begun doing.
Leveson’s plan for damages is illegal as it breaches the Human Rights Act Legal opinion differs. Hugh Tomlinson QC, chair of Hacked Off, says “There is no substance in the argument that exemplary damages are somehow incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights”. The newspapers have procured one opinion, but is it really likely that Lord Justice Leveson proposed an illegal measure? And in the unlikely event that the press are right, then they have nothing to worry about, do they?
The Attorney General is worried about the stress caused to suspects in the phone-hacking inquiry and thinks journalists caught up in it have been victims of ‘rough justice’ Complete Fantasy. Hacked Off have it on impeccable authority that this story is made up. A quote from the Attorney General’s office given to The Sun confirms as much.
Leveson is only supported by Hacked Off and a handful of celebrities No: Everyone’s Hacked Off. The overwhelming majority of victims of phone hacking and other forms of press intrusion are ordinary members of the public and not celebrities. Hacked Off exists to speak on their behalf. Statutory underpinning of the kind recommended by Leveson is supported by the NUJ, the largest organisation in the country representing journalists, MPs and peers of all parties and a wide cross-section of society. The Hacked Off petition, urging full implementation of Leveson, has been signed by more than 170,000 people; a higher number of signatories than on any petition on the Downing Street website. The latest opinion polls show more than 75% of the public agree with them.
Leveson means ministers can use D Notices to block publication of embarrassing stories Misleading. D-Notices – official requests to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security – have nothing at all to do with Leveson. The elision of a method used since 1912 by the authorities to censor reporting of sensitive national security information and the Leveson Report of 2012 designed to repair the broken system of press regulation is a smokescreen to baffle readers.
Leveson’s recommendations pose a threat to the local press
In fact the opposite is true: it will be more expensive for the regional press to stay out of a Leveson regulator.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Andrew Fordereply
February 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm

You are doing a very important and a great job. Keep up the good work
Andrew Forde

February 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm

It’s tragically ironic that the reactions of the press to the Lord Justice Leveson’s report very much confirm its validity..

February 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I am taking issue with one statement, however:

“The overwhelming majority of victims of phone hacking and other forms of press intrusion are ordinary members of the public and not celebrities. Hacked Off exists to speak on their behalf.”

This seems to imply that only “ordinary members of the public” are supported, which is IMHO wrong. Privacy is for EVERYONE, in the public eye or not. Becoming rich or famous does not suspend someone’s right to privacy, not even for an instant. This is the exact core of the report: the law applies to all, but the enforcement mechanisms are flawed at best and need improvement. This is also why the police involvement was so nefarious.

John Miltonreply
February 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm

In Private Eye’s issue 1331, its Street of Shame column wrote: “Hacked Off’s version of [the media regulatory bill]… proposes that ‘interference with the activities of the media by ministers and public officials shall be unlawful unless it is for a legitimate purpose and is necessary in a democratic society’.”

The column concludes: “Nothing sinister there. Move along!”

Don’t like certain newspapers? Don’t buy them. Think they’re breaking the law regarding harassment or intercepting communications? Prosecute them under any of the laws we already have that address those crimes. But don’t put a bunch of careerist expenses cheats in charge of what I can know about them and other people.

Remember the words of Amartya Sen: “No substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent and democratic country with a relatively free press.”

February 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Greetings from America! I enjoy reading these posts. Great job! Keep up the good work. Keep exposing their lies.

February 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm

On the PACE issue (number 5 on your list) does anyone know when the Home Office will actually launch their consultation? Their press office doesn’t seem to know.

Karla Willowsreply
February 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm

The sooner we scrap tabloids and snooty biased papers the better. 🙂 I don’t understand why people hate them yet buy them. Stop buying them! They are pure sleeze. There’s so much more to life!

Frances Hindereply
February 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Excellent work. Wish more prominent people were as brave. Thank you

Peter Reynoldsreply
February 28, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Thank you. The only ‘freedom of the press’ that Fleet Street wants is the freedom to lie, mislead and exploit.

Steven Nottreply
February 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I was a witness at the Leveson Inquiry and appeared on the 6th December 2011.
If some politicians have shady pasts, then the press already know and will continue to use that knowledge as leverage, no doubt gleaned from the ‘dark arts’ like phonehacking.
The Daily Mail and Telegraph sent warning shots across the bows of Parliament when they published ‘some’ leaked text messages between David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks ‘lol’.
It was the sort of message that read to me like “there’s more texts where these came from” and as long as the press have insider knowledge, probably obtained illegally, they will continue to rule this country. Cameron backing down from implementing the Leveson Report was a clear sign that the press had ganged up together and put pressure on our PM to abandon Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations or face the consequences….whatever they may be.
We don’t really know what’s been going on.
We don’t know what sordid past our PM may or may not have…but I bet the press do.
Whatever it is, our PM is scared of something….and it’s got nothing to do with losing press freedom.
Thankfully, with the growth explosion of social media, no doubt we’ll all find out one day when someone decides to leak some info….whistleblowing has become a lot easier using social media. It’s how I got my story out. If you want to read more about that then please visit – thanks

Terri-Anne Connorsreply
February 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Well done to everyone at Hacked Off, your voice continues to be heard and is very much needed. Some members of the press continue to exploit their power and influence to hoodwink the many – the very reason why the Leveson Enquiry was commissioned. Lies, even on the smallest scale must never be left unaddressed – Hacked Off does a great job at exposing them all.

Danny Nicholsonreply
February 28, 2013 at 11:12 pm

How are they going to get any sort of truth when it’s been forged that many time’s it’s all crooked warped and bent,
We can’t allow them to paint over the cracks and white wash over the whole sworded scandal who are we safe guarding against, our own successes that people want to exploit or the people who gave them the idea to make people accountable.
Who has Dean’s evidence and archive it should be posted on-line so people can see for them self. if you have it please do the right thing.

Danny Nicholsonreply
March 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm
– In reply to: Danny Nicholson

I want justice and the truth to be known!.

Andrew Heenanreply
March 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Notice how the press contrives to confuse ‘free speech’ and a ‘free press’?

Free speech is a noble aim; a free press is simply freedom for press barons (and their powerful friends) to cheat, manipulate and lie (Yes, Daily Mail, I am talking to you too). Even Private Eye plays the game.

March 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Leveson did not in fact recommend any statutory backstop for his recommendations. I wanted to sign Hacked Off’s petition, but they should first make it clear that what Leveson set out was a vision for the future that included statutory underpinning *if* the last chance saloon of self-regulation he actually proposed (despite saying he wasn’t proposing such a saloon) was not fully implemented. See Vol iv, K, 3.35:”I do not, at the moment, recommend any statutory backstop and to assert that I do will be to distort this Report.” Deal with that line first in your public pleas for support. No point in swapping one crowd of media dissimulators for another.

Leveson: another smear exposed – Brian Cathcart | Inforrm's Blogreply
July 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm

[…] again, newspapers have smeared the judge and smeared his inquiry. Their motive is clear: to undermine the credibility of his recommendations on self-regulation of […]

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