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News: Leveson Inquiry – Seminar of 12 October 2011, Approaches to Regulation

On 12 October 2011, the Leveson Inquiry held the third in its remarkable series of seminars which have brought together some of the leading figures in and around the media to discuss issues concerning the press and its regulation.    There were some important contributions – in particular from “Daily Mail” editor Paul Dacre.

The third, all day seminar, was entitled “Supporting a free press and high standards – approaches to regulation”.   It featured sessions on

The list of those who attended the seminar is available here.

The subsequent media coverage rightly focussed on the contribution of two editors.  The present “Daily Mail” editor Paul Dacre said that

“I’d like to try to persuade this inquiry that self-regulation – albeit in a considerably beefed up form – is, in a country that regards itself as truly democratic, the only viable way of policing a genuinely free press”.

He advocated a newspaper ombudsman – possibly working alongside the PCC – with a power to investigate and possibly impose fines.  This call was backed by the “Independent”.  On his blog Alastair Campbell called Mr Dacre’s contribution “self-serving, sanctimonious, hypocritical, dishonest.”  But, writing in the “Guardian”, Brian Cathcart drew attention to the significance of this speech saying that surprisingly, the Mail editor may have convinced the press that new controls on their industry are necessary.  We will have a more detailed post about this tomorrow.

Meanwhile, there was a stand up turn from former “Sun” editor, Kelvin Mackenzie who said that “The only reason we are all here is due to one man’s action; Cameron’s obsessive arse-kissing over the years of Rupert Murdoch.”  As Roy Greenslade put it, Mr Mackenzie exercised his right to free speech with swagger and rudeness. Entertaining perhaps but irrelevant to the real debate – to which Paul Dacre made an important contribution.

The Website has now made available video and transcripts of the seminars on 6 October 2011.  There is also an attendance list for Seminars 1 and 2.

1 Comment

  1. Elaine Decoulos

    Sorry to leave yet another comment…but I was in attendance at the Seminar and it was truly an extraordinary, yet sad day, for accountability in Britain. Lord Justice Leveson was brave indeed to allow the likes of Paul Dacre and Kelvin MacKenzie to give presentations. They certainly gave him a taste of what they are all about. He is in for a rough ride.

    The Seminar strangely caused the most prompt apology The Daily Mail has likely ever published. Kelvin MacKenzie apologised to Lord Justice Leveson in his Saturday column over comments made in his ‘speech’. This is a British farce, Benny Hill style. His ‘speech’ got a lot of laughter, but I did not think it was funny. He was mocking a very senior judge appointed to sort out the mess his former employer created. No contrition on offer.

    If The Daily Mail is serious about improving standards, they should fire him. What do they pay him? Last week he mocked Hugh Grant because he is doing an excellent and incidentally, unpaid job, campaigning for those whose lives have been greatly harmed by the unlawful acts of the press. Sorry, but this is not a joke. The Daily Mail is moving down into the gutter while their editor makes some minor concessions on improving standards which they hope to control via beefed self-regulation. I am beginning to wonder if they are a fit and proper newspaper group themselves.

    The sad part is Associated Newspapers does not need to go into the gutter. Why are they doing it? They would still have a good product if they cleaned up their act.

    Of course Dacre and MacKenzie got the headlines, but there were many excellent presentations and contributions from academics and others on free speech, the problems of the PCC and need for corporate governance. Not sure how the latter would work with DMGT, owner of The Daily Mail and listed on The London Stock Exchange in the FTSE 100. It’s a bit like News Corp. The family has a majority of the voting shares, so essentially they control the board.

    Best quote of the day goes to Desmond Browne QC: “Lack of access to justice breeds media impunity”.

    This contrasts greatly to Paul Dacre’s views on democracy. Read his quote above. He thinks “the only viable way of policing a genuinely free press” is beefed up self-regulation. What about the High Court and Court 13 in particular where his lawyers have spent many hours of their working life? . They have spent more time there than any other newspaper group. Another great British farce, Benny Hill style.

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