Government drops second part of Leveson press inquiry

02 March, 2018, 07:52 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Secretary of State for Digital Culture Media and Sport Matt Hancock smiles after leaving a cabinet meeting in London. The British government has scrapped plans for an inquiry into alleged media

He said there had already been significant action as a result of the inquiry, including the establishment of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and reforms to policing practices. It was prompted by the acrimonious United Kingdom phone hacking scandal which touched celebrities, the Royals and even the families of murder victims.

The scandal led media mogul Rupert Murdoch to shut down the 168-year-old paper. Murdoch and son James were hauled before politicians to give evidence about wrong-doing.

Media Secretary Matt Hancock said it was not in the national interest to go ahead with part two of the Leveson Inquiry which laid bare the cozy ties between British leaders, police chiefs and press barons in its initial conclusions in 2012.

At the time the government said there would be a second phase, looking at "unlawful or improper conduct" within media organizations and their relations with the police. He claimed that some newspapers had "helped write" Hancock's statement and accused the Culture Secretary of failing to "stand up to the tabloid-style newspapers who are propping up this government".

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Hancock warned against laws that "would lead to a press that is fettered and not free", and said that punishing media groups even if they won was "no way to organise a system of press regulation".

"This announcement, conveniently timed to be buried under a flurry of snow, is a disappointment, a breach of trust and a bitter blow to the victims of press intrusion, but it is not in any way a surprise", he said. "That reports without fear or favor".

"Section 40 was created to give protection to journalists and newspapers who signed up to an independent regulator while enabling the public to seek redress cheaply and quickly", said Labour's Tom Watson, accusing the government of capitulating to pressure on the issue, as well as the wider inquiry. Britain needs high-quality journalism to thrive in the new digital world. The ruling Conservative Party opposed Leveson "part two" in its election manifesto past year.

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