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Hacked Off: New Poll shows public wants legislation to implement Leveson

Opinon PollA YouGov poll of 1717 adults taken over 11-12 April 2015 for the Hacked Off Campaign has found that the public do not believe that press behaviour has improved since the phone hacking scandal, with almost 3 in 5 wanting tougher regulation of the press, and the same proportion wanting further Parliamentary action to deliver it.

  • Almost 6 in 10 (59%) of the public favour Parliamentary action to implement Leveson, or to bring in statutory regulation [1] if the press continue to refuse to set up and join a Leveson-compliant regulator. Only 19% of respondents thought the press’ own system should be “given more time to show it can work”.
  • Almost 6 in 10 (59%) of the public also want tougher regulation of the press. This is seen across the full range of papers: a majority of their readers who expressed a view want tougher regulation.
  • Most of the public (64%) believe that press behaviour has not improved since the phone hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry. Of these, 24% believe it has worsened. Only 25% thought it had improved.
  • Press self-regulator IPSO, which is not Leveson compliant, does not appear to have the confidence of the publictwo years after its announcement. 60% of the public don’t have confidence in a self-regulator like IPSO, set up by the press industry with no oversight, compared to only 21% who do. Only 3% of the public have “a lot of” confidence in a regulator like IPSO.
  • Public confidence in the press self-regulator has hardly changed since a similar poll in 2013, back in the days of the PCC.
  • Only 14% of the public agree with the press when they say Leveson’s proposals should be rejected and that the press should stick with their own non-Leveson system. In fact 17%, felt that Leveson did not go far enough with his proposals.  But the majority of those who expressed a view (and 47% overall) backed Leveson’s proposals specifically.
  • More than a third of respondents felt that Ed Miliband has suffered negative press coverage because of his stance on press behaviour and regulation. Of these respondents, 70% thought the press were unreasonable for attacking him on these grounds.  A majority of the public (51%) believe the press coverage of Ed Miliband is negative, whereas just 23% believe press coverage of David Cameron is negative.
  • Of those who have not made up their minds on Ed Miliband one way or the other they were three times more likely to respect him because of his views on press regulation.

Hacked Off Associate Director Dr Evan Harris said:

Despite two years of intense propaganda from the press industry, promoting IPSO as ‘the toughest regulator in the Western world’ and proclaiming its independence, it has made no impact on the public’s view that pure self-regulation without independent oversight simply does not offer enough protection for the public.  And it’s particularly striking that Guardian readers and the independent have even less confidence in an IPSO-style system than the public on average.

This poll shows that the views of national newspapers on press regulation are dramatically out of line with the views of their readerships.  Even the readers of Murdoch papers want tougher regulation.  Most of the public see no difference between IPSO and what went before.

This poll is consistent with all previous polls and shows strong support for the Leveson proposals. Indeed, just as many people think the Leveson recommendations don’t go far enough as support press industry opposition.  Even Conservative Party voters reject the press industry line. What is striking, is that readers of all newspapers including those who have spent three years attacking the Leveson Report, are overwhelmingly lined up against the editorial line.  Among Guardian readers, only 5% agreed with the newspapers’ own position and five times as many wanted to see something stronger even than Leveson.”

The Chair of Hacked Off, Hugh Tomlinson QC, added:

The most striking result of this poll is the very strong support for legislation in the event of continued press refusal to sign up to an independent and effective regulator as recommended by Lord Justice Leveson. Less than one in five supported the press industry’s ‘wait and see’ policy, with much more support for options which involve passing a law.

“The Labour, Lib Dem and Green Parties have made manifesto commitments to deliver Leveson, and this poll shows that the public are fully behind them using legislation to do so if that is necessary.”

The full results and data tables can be see here:  YouGovPoll results [xls]


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