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 future for self regulation? (presentations from Eve Salomon, Paul Dacre and Will Moy).
- The role of corporate governance in maintaining standards, (presentations from Lord Borrie, Stephen Hill, Sly Bailey)
- What redress should be available for breach of standards? (presentations from Professor Steven Barnett, Desmond Browne QC and Professor Robert Baldwin)
- Defending freedom of Expression (presentations from John Kampfner, Professor James Curran and Kelvin MacKenzie).
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.