In Leveson’s new model, there is so very much that the PCC has already embraced

29th November, 2012 6:19 pm

By Simon Sapper

Well, I have to admit to being impressed by LJ Leveson’s delivery earlier today. It was much more emphatic than I had expected. The clarity he offered – on the role of the press, where he felt there had been failure, the limits of his preferred legislation – was welcome. But the detail is only now starting to emerge.

To my mind there was an element of contradiction in the report – the plans promoted by Lords Hunt and Black were described as being a “long way indeed” away from what he has said is required. Yet in the new regulatory model he seeks, there is so very much that the PCC has already embraced and which there seems to be a broad industry consensus in support of.

So the only substantive difference seems to be statutory underpinning – with this almost a simile for independence, and LJ Leveson gave welcome commentary on what he thought that might look like.

In response, PCC Chair David Hunt has already said that he sees an opportunity to make progress towards the reformed, strengthened self-regulation of the press sought by the enquiry. And the PM has encouraged the press to do this, many times, in this afternoon’s debate.

There also seems to be a growing acknowledgement that the newspapers and periodicals should be given an opportunity to, as Shami Chakrabarti said, “show willing”.

So the message possibly is if the industry can seize the opportunity, and can create the structure that Leveson has described, then why would legislation be needed?

Well you only have to listen to the steadfastness of Leveson’s remarks, and the comments of, for example, Hacked Off, to understand that not to legislate would be a high-risk option, for the Prime Minister. And the debate taking place in the Commons seems to bear this out.

So at this early stage, the most obvious questions for me are (1) how to respond to the invitation repeatedly made to go further than we have done so far and (2) how would the desired legislation actually be put into practice – both politically and legislatively.

I’ve not had the chance to download let alone open the substantive report, so I would be foolish to rush to any detailed conclusions. But I believe that the PCC has a role – a responsibility even – to continue to provide the range of services on complaints, desist notices, training, mediation and the rest, until a successor organisation is set up. Thousands of people use these each year. The PCC – that is the organisation with a clear lay majority – is also well placed to contribute to the debate. There is a body of expertise and experience there that should be put increasingly at the disposal of the reform programme. (I know the views of some on the left about the PCC, but if it disappeared tomorrow, there’s no-one to pick up the work it does).

I’m on record as saying the press will get the sort of regulation that they are deserve – or are prepared to pay for. I stand by that. I’m also on record as saying the industry as a whole could be historically regarded as “compliance averse”. They now need to shed their inhibitions if they are to pick up the fascinating and vital challenge that has been laid down. “The press need to establish….” Leveson said. The PM has agreed. Even if Ed’s call for progress on legislation is adopted, there is still so much is left to play for – much to gain and much to lose.

Simon Sapper is a lay Press Complaints Commissioner. He writes here in a personal capacity.

  • Dave Postles

    No, the issue is the potential for backsliding over time. Without statute, there is no guarantee.

Latest

  • News Nick Forbes elected new leader of Labour’s local government group

    Nick Forbes elected new leader of Labour’s local government group

    Leader of Newcastle City Council Nick Forbes was this weekend elected to succeed Jim McMahon as leader of Labour’s Local Government Association (LGA) group. The result was announced at the party’s Local Government conference in Nottingham, after voting by English and Welsh Labour council groups closed last Thursday. Forbes, who is widely seen as a ‘moderate’ within the party, was elected with 68% of the vote on a 74% turnout. He will present a report on local government to Labour’s […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour MPs set to lead All-Party Parliamentary Group on Proportional Representation

    Labour MPs set to lead All-Party Parliamentary Group on Proportional Representation

    Chuka Umunna and Johnny Reynolds today pledged their support for the cross-party campaign to introduce proportional representation. The former shadow ministers have signed up for the Make Votes Matter project which also includes UKIP MP Douglas Carswell, Green MP Caroline Lucas and several Lib Dem MPs. It comes after Reynolds tabled a backbench Bill on voting reform in the Commons in December 2015. Make Votes Matter has described the last General Election as the “most disproportionate election ever” in Britain. […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Europe There are no circumstances under which we would be better off outside the EU

    There are no circumstances under which we would be better off outside the EU

    As David Cameron jets round Europe to seal his EU reform deal, and with the various leave campaigns squabbling and in chaos, the big issues facing voters in the referendum mustn’t be lost. The EU referendum is not about the future of the prime minister or the dramas of the Tory Party or which mad right-winger is running which leave campaign, but about working people – about workers’ jobs and workers’ rights. It will be about trade. About security, consumer […]

    Read more →
  • News Momentum leak: Six things we learned

    Momentum leak: Six things we learned

    The agenda of Saturday’s meeting of the Momentum National Committee has found its way into the public domain. Here are six things we learned from it. 1) Momentum has raised £33,000 but has set its sights on more than £150,000 The group has raised £33,441.56 since October, mainly from online donations. However, it hopes an official membership structure would raise £150,000 a year. This would be from an annual fee of £10 a year or £1 a month. Momentum hopes […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Momentum to block supporters of rival parties from membership

    Momentum to block supporters of rival parties from membership

    Momentum, the controversial Corbynite pressure group, has confirmed that supporters of rival political parties will not be able to sign up. Leaked documents reveal Momentum’s blueprint to raise funds, take on Labour’s “moderates” and set up formal alliance with constituency parties. It has also confirmed a code of ethics that includes an opposition to “illegal wars” and Trident renewal, showing a strong reaction against Labour policy of recent decades. However, John McTernan, a former adviser to Tony Blair, has hit back at […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit