The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, told Parliament today that the Government was formally closing the Leveson Inquiry.
The Government published its response to the Consultation on the Leveson Inquiry and its implementation. As well as abandoing Leveson Part Two, Mr Hancock indicated that it would move to repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
What Mr Hancock did not make clear was that the Inquiry Chairman, Sir Brian Leveson, fundamentally disagreed with the Government’s position on Leveson Part Two (he said that, as a serving Judge he could not comment on section 40).
In a devastating letter of 23 January 2018, Sir Brian demolishes each one of the Government (and press) arguments against Leveson Part 2.
He points out, in particular
- That, since Part 1 of the Inquiry, it had been revealed that phone hacking was more widespread than was then disclosed that the the evidence given to Part 1 was “far from complete”, so that it “remains unclear exactly how widespread these and similar practices have been throughout the print media”.
- That neither Part 1 nor the criminal trials have provided answers to “who did what to whom”
- That there were sharp differences of opinion as to whether IPSO was sufficiently distinct from the PCC as to have resulted in a real difference in behaviour. This could be assessed during Part 2.
- That there has been no investigation of corporate governance and management failures at News International and other newspapers.
- That Part 2 could deal with the question as to whether new media outlets should be subject to greater regulation.
- That the problems with data protection identified in Part 1 remain.
Sir Brian concludes
“I have no doubt that there is still a legitimate expectation on behalf of the public and, in particular, the alleged victims of phone hacking and other unlawful conduct, that there will be a full public examination of the circumstances that allowed that behaviour to develop and clear reassurances that nothing of the same scale could occur again: that is what they were promised”.