Below is the text of a piece which I’ve written for the British Journalism Review and it argues a different approach to newspaper regulation than the one taken by most witnesses to the inquiry so far. The BJR’s new edition carries other advice to Lord Leveson from a clutch of other commentators including Tessa Jowell, Steve Hewlett, Geoffrey Bindman and Donald Trelford.
Balanced privacy law might be the least bad outcome
I blame the Leveson Inquiry’s terms of reference. These ask the inquiry to recommend “a new more effective policy and regulatory regime which supports the integrity and freedom of the press”. No sooner were these words published than editors, pundits, publishers and media lawyers plunged with joyful relish into the business of elaborating “options” for toughening the powers and operation of the existing regulator, the Press Complaints Commission. The idea that the phrasing of the terms of reference is open ended, and doesn’t necessarily imply even the continuation of any self-regulatory or independent regulation, seemed not to occur to anyone at the seminars which Leveson organised as the overture to the formal hearings.