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The Leveson Inquiry: an update

The Leveson Inquiry: an update

Whether or not regulatory reform of the press is necessary has been on the agenda today at the Leveson inquiry, the public inquiry on the role of the press and the police in the wave of the phone-hacking scandal.

The future of press regulation, including the role of the Press Complaint Commission, has been at the centre of the Financial Times editor Lionel Barber's participation.

Responding to Barber's evidence, Lord Justice Leveson has signalled that he expects the newspaper industry to undertake substantial regulatory reform, the Guardian wrote. The reforms will need to be recognized as credible by readers if they want to be effective, he added.

Press Gazette reported however that the presiding judge declared that he is against state controls on journalism and that he is keen that any new regulator remains "independent".

The effectiveness of the Press Complaint Commission has been under the microscope.
The PCC was created in the aftermath of a previous inquiry - the Calcutta inquiry - in 1990.
As reported by the Guardian, Leveson intervened during Barber's speech to query if the PCC was "really a regulator at all. It's a complaints mechanism" - prompting Barber to say the body was in part effective because "you don't want to devote a large portion of your newspaper to explain why you get something wrong. That's a deterrent. Don't underestimate the significance of that."

Despite this, Barber also said the way the PCC misstepped badly in the way it handled the phone-hacking scandal led to a lost in credibility. "I think we need a new body, we need a new composition... and we need new powers," he said, as quoted by the Press Gazette.

Barber described the Financial Times' code of conduct as a model for journalism: the paper aims to set a "gold standard" in journalism by adhering to "the highest practices and standards", Journalism.co.uk reported. He told the court: "I would argue that the Financial Times code of conduct is a model for self-regulation ... because the penalties for not getting it right are severe."

Independent editor Chris Blackhurst's hearing focused on the "enormous shock" at the paper following the scandal surrounding the Johann Hari plagiarism case. Press Gazette reported that the disgraced reporter would return to The Independent in four to five weeks following four months' unpaid leave during which he attended an ethics course in New York at his own expense.

Witnesses for the afternoon include the CEO of Telegraph Media Group Murdoch MacLennan, William Lewis, formerly from the Daily Telegraph and and Finbarr Ronayne, Finance Director at the Daily Telegraph.

Sources: Guardian (1), (2), Press Gazette (1), (2), (3), Journalism.co.uk



Federica Cherubini


2012-01-10 18:43

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