A series of policy briefs assessing the impact of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations for reform of the press and the government’s plans for a Royal Charter are now available to download on the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society Website.

Written by representatives from  the Guardian, the Reuters Institute for Journalism, and the University of Leeds, the policy briefs emerge from a workshop at the University of Oxford Law Faculty entitled ‘Media Law after Leveson’, which sought to cut through the increasingly polarized debate between proponents of the reforms and those opposed to any form of press regulation.

Gillian Phillips, Director of Editorial Legal Service at the Guardian, voices deep misgivings about many of the reforms. She argues that Leveson’s proposals provide further obstacles to a free and independent press that is already under struggling under more law and regulation than ever before, and under competitive pressure from the largely unfettered new media outlets. “On the one hand it is so much harder for a journalist to gather, verify and authenticate, and publish information; on the other it is incredibly easy to tweet or blog information, with little or no due diligence…. there is an awful lot of uncertainty and lack of clarity, and an environment of uncertainty is not conducive for a free and vibrant press to flourish.
Lara Fielden, formerly of Ofcom and the BBC, draws on her extensive research of press regulation overseas, conducted for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. In her assessment of the Royal Charter drawn up to implement the Leveson recommendations, she cautions that the potential blurring of boundaries between a standards code and the law would be a significant departure from regulatory systems elsewhere, but concludes that, “the voluntary and independent framework set out in the draft Charter is a huge step forward in placing the public interest at the heart of regulation”.
Paul Wragg of the University of Leeds assesses the impact of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations for press regulation on ordinary members of the public. Citing the treatment of the transgender primary school teacher Lucy Meadows by the Daily Mail, he argues that any future regulator will struggle to achieve any meaningful change to the ‘cultural indifference to individual privacy and dignity’ shown by sections of the press.
The policy briefs are available here: