Lord Justice Leveson today heard an application by Associated Newspapers Limited, the publishers of the “Daily Mail”, concerning the composition of his advisory panel. Concerns were expressed that these individuals lacked tabloid or regional newspaper experience. The application was supported by Trinity Mirror Limited, the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, and Guardian News and Media Limited.
Lord Justice Leveson has six advisers, appointed by the Prime Minister: Sir David Bell, former chairman of the Financial Times; Shami Chakribati, director Liberty; Lord David Currie, the former chairman of Ofcom; Elinor Goodman, the former political editor of Channel 4 News; George Jones, former political editor of the Daily Telegraph; and Sir Paul Scott-Lee, former chief constable of West Midlands police.
Associated’s counsel, Jonathan Caplan QC, said it did not wish to be “confrontational”, but there were concerns at the lack of anyone among the six assessors who represented the tabloid, mid-market, regional press.
Gillian Phillips, director of editorial legal services for The Guardian, said:
“Our view is that tabloid and mid-market papers, as well as regional papers, will play a vital part in the story and we believe it is important that those assisting the inquiry reflect the plurality and divergence of the wider UK media.”
Lord Justice Leveson stressed the role of the six individuals was only advisory one. He said that the conclusion of the inquiry “will be mine and mine alone.”
In the course of the hearing Lord Justice Leveson said that
“It is of critical importance throughout this inquiry that I have the help of everybody. I have a vast and difficult task to address within a comparatively short period of time. I accept the importance that it holds for your clients and for the industry, the profession.
I will only start to be able to achieve a sensible resolution of these issues if everybody is pulling in the same direction, albeit from their different standpoints.
I am not asking people to compromise their views or beliefs but I will want to make sure that I have everyone’s point of view and, if there is any perspective which it is thought I have missed from the evidence that I propose to call or in any other way, then I would be grateful if your clients, and indeed every other core participant, ensure the team are aware of the gap.”
“I am very conscious that I am stepping into a profession that is not the one that I spent 40 years of life in. It is critiical that I obtain advice from those who have made their life in this area, not least because I would be keen to understand any flaws that I might have because of lack of experience.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, Lord Justice Leveson said that he would consider whether to appoint extra panellists. His decision was reserved.
Details were given about the dates and potential subject areas of the seminars which the Inquiry is planning to hold.
The first seminar on 6 October 2011 will be chaired by Sir David Bell, the former chairman of Financial Times, and will explore issues relating to privacy and the press. A second seminar has been scheduled for 12 October 2011. Lord Justice Leveson said a list of witnesses had been drawn up to appear at the seminars but the letters had not been posted because of Associated Newspapers’ application.