Lord Justice Leveson today outlined the procedures and time-scale for his Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press in connection with its relationships with the public, the police and politicians.  He made a short “Opening Statement”, part of which can be seen on the clip at the bottom of this post.

In the course of the statement he said that in the first instance the Inquiry will focus primarily on the relationship between the press and public and the related issues of press regulation. He  announced a series of seminars in October on topics including the law, ethics of journalism and the practice and pressures of investigative journalism for broadsheet and tabloid newspapers.

Lord Justice Leveson said that

“At some stage, there needs to be a discussion of what amounts to the public good, to what extent the public interest should be taken into account and by whom.

“I hope that an appropriate cross section of the entire profession (including those from the broadcast media) will be involved in the discussion.”

He said he had the power to require potential witnesses to provide statements and relevant documents. He recognised that many would happily do this voluntarily but added:

“In order to maintain an ordered approach to the collection of evidence, I intend to exercise those powers as soon as possible“.

He also indicated that preliminary hearings will be held in September 2011 to address key aspects of the way in which the Inquiry will be undertaken.  He said that anyone who wished to be identified as a “core participant” within the meaning of Rule 5 of the Inquiries Rules 2006 should before 31 August 2011 write to the Secretary to the Inquiry c/o the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London WC2A 2LL.

At the same time as making the Opening Statement Lord Justice Leveson released the Individual Declarations of the Members of the Inquiry Panel.  This deals, among other things, with Lord Justice Leveson’s own contacts with Matthew Freud which have been recently discussed in the press.