Since Lord Justice Leveson published his recommendations seven weeks ago, there has been a flurry of activity. Three draft bills have been published – by Labour, the Lib Dem peer Lord Lester, and Hacked Off – all of which aim to put the Report into practice. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport have also produced a piece of draft legislation, that Hacked Off has now published. This Government Bill was intended to demonstrate the ferocious complexity of a bill to enact Leveson. In fact, like the three other draft bills, it does the opposite: it shows that legislation to make a reality of media reform is neither complicated nor particularly prone to the risk of endless amendments. Meanwhile, the Conservative side of the Coalition have been working on the idea of a Royal Charter to give effect to the same reforms.
Last week, Hacked Off published a Bill that would meet the Prime Minister’s ‘Victims’ Test’, the degree of satisfaction of victims of press abuse, which David Cameron said would be the true measure of the Government’s response to Leveson. We wrote it in consultation with victims of press abuse and our supporters. Those victims, including Gerry and Kate McCann, Christopher Jefferies, Abigail Witchalls, Paul Dadge, Mo George, Jacqui Hames, John Tulloch, Margaret and James Watson and Jane Winter all believe that it delivers the Leveson recommendations on press reform.
Hacked Off will be consulting on the Leveson Bill until 15 February 2013. The process is open to victims of press abuse, parliamentarians, academics, civil society groups, the newspaper industry, journalists and the general public: in short, anyone who wants to make this a better Bill is invited to join in the debate and contribute to the process.
As well as publishing the draft Leveson Bill, Hacked Off is also publishing the Bills produced by the Government, by Labour and by the Lib Dem Peer Lord Lester. Hacked Off wants the process to be open and transparent, in marked contrast to how the press and some politicians have been conducting their negotiations.
This is the Hacked Off “Leveson Bill” page, which explains how to take part in its consultation on the Leveson Bill
The Leveson Bill
Hacked Off has drafted and published the Leveson Bill, a short parliamentary bill to put into law Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations on press regulation.
This draft bill was produced with expert assistance and in consultation with victims of press abuses, and now we’re consulting on it. The process is open to parliamentarians, academics, civil society groups, the newspaper industry, journalists and the general public: in short, anyone who wants to express a view is invited to join in the debate and contribute to the process.
The reference to clauses set out here are to the Leveson Bill we have drafted as set out in the section above with explanatory notes, or as a “clean copy” in Appendix 1.
The bill in this consultation document has had a few changes since the version published on 7thJanuary, mainly correcting typographical and other errors. Any significant changes have been set out in italics in the Bill set out above and there is a note to that effect in the right margin. All responses should be made to the version of the Bill in this document and that appears on the Hacked Off website after the publication of this document.
To assist and inform this consultation, we have been given permission to publish the DCMS working draft, as at 17 December 2012, of a Bill. We are grateful to them for this and recognise as it as a welcome move towards the greater transparency needed in the implementation of the Leveson Report. We are happy to point out that this “working draft of a bill” does not have the status of a “draft Bill”, and has not been approved by the Government as a whole. It is attached at Appendix 2.
We have sought to highlight any differences of approach in respect of policy or drafting in the questions below and we have invited comments on those differences.
The Labour Party published a draft Bill as an aid to the debate in early December and this is included in Appendix 3. We also invite questions on the differences between the policy and the drafting approach taken in that document.
It should be noted at the outset that these three bills, authored independently, cover much the same ground, and have much in common. All three draft bills attempt to put Leveson’s recommendations into legislative language but are not set in stone and have invited comments and suggestions.
For completeness we include at Appendix 4 the Bill published by Lord Lester of Herne Hill as an aid to the debate and we also invite comment on that.
In the consultation questions, references to the Bill and to clauses, unless otherwise specified, are references to the Leveson Bill and its clauses as set out in the document available above.