Everyone’s wrong on Leveson, but nobody’s got the balls to admit it

Leveson makes me angry. Not because I work for NI (not as a journalist, because I’m bad with words and also it’s hard and I like not having to immerse myself in bad news), but because I’m one of those horrible people – a logical liberal.

Everyone is wrong. Everyone.

When Ed Miliband started the ball rolling by saying Leveson should be implemented in full – WITHOUT HAVING READ IT – I knew we’d be in the shit. He was wrong, obviously, as they’ve since admitted that, actually, some things probably aren’t so great when it comes to keeping a free press. But when the leader of a political party not only fails to read the small print, but THE HUGE PRINT OF THE ACTUAL RECOMMENDATIONS, it’s time to start worrying.

And when people from all parties start using the “but what about the victims?” line, I know they’re wrong. Let’s be 100% clear on this – people who had their phones hacked & lives ruined by the press deserve every sympathy, and we must change things for the better.

But.

In what other circumstance have we allowed victims to dictate how policy changes? I may be wrong on this, but I cannot think of one other instance where we’ve allowed a pressure group composed of victims to help table amendments. To allow those who, with one or two exceptions, have no knowledge of legislative procedure and the implications of their suggestions. And Hugh Grant? Has never been Prime Minister. That was just a film.

And then we have Nick.

Nick, I love you, but you’re wrong. Let’s throw out one of those hypothetical scenarios. As Carl Minns points out, the Royal Charter lists a relevant publisher as:

“a website containing news-related material (whether or not  related to a newspaper or magazine);”

and

“news-related material” means […] opinion about matters relating to the news or current affairs.”

So, when a regular political blogger – and we’re not talking your Guidos here, we’re talking party activists and whatnot – writes a piece, it’ll be covered by your rules. And if an MP or big company (and that’s what they’ll be, since supporters of Leveson are so intent to get this in via any means necessary they are risking ruining the Defamation Bill, something that’s been in the making for YEARS) takes this blogger to court, this blogger automatically loses. Why?

Well, because they aren’t signed up to this new charter – because they are a *blogger* – they’ll have to pay all costs EVEN IF THEY WIN.

I don’t actually think that’s hyperbolic – after all, everyone is constantly testing the muddy waters of law and regulation when it comes to the internet these days, we only need look at the likes of Lord McAlpine, or footballers subject to racist abuse, to see which way the tide is turning on this one.

And David Cameron, who is the most right in wanting to protect the press? Is also wrong. Because he shouldn’t have walked away. What should have happened is someone – anyone – standing up and saying: ” Hang on, maybe we’re rushing this?”

Because it’s only been five months since Leveson published his report. And I don’t think that’s enough time for anyone to really sit down and think through all the complexities and unforeseen consequences of some of the proposed changes on either side.

Immediate concerns about PACE & DPA were brushed aside as a smokescreen by those who didn’t want change, but they are real concerns. Those worried about press vetoing appointments to any board that may or may not be in place? Also probably have a point.

But, of course, nobody is willing to listen to the other side – you’re a Murdoch stooge, you’ve got an agenda, you want people to suffer, you want to ban freedom of the press.

On Leveson, we’re all wrong. So why don’t we just man-up and admit it?

About Stackee

All you need is love. Well, that, and ice cream, beaches, Sci-Fi and pi(e). Perhaps water too.
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One Response to Everyone’s wrong on Leveson, but nobody’s got the balls to admit it

  1. Chris says:

    I agree Leveson’s proposals about costs for those who don’t participate in the new regulator are an area of concern, but: (1) I’m not clear whether those recommendations are actually going to be enacted and (2) Leveson certainly didn’t suggest that non-participating publishers should automatically have to pay claimants’ costs, but only that the court should be able to take into account the fact that the publisher was non-participating when making a decision about costs. It’s difficult to see a court penalising a blogger in this way unless there was a particular aggravating factor. But it is a concern for other non-participating publishers, and it would be nice to know where the parties stand on this point.

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