I fully support the Leveson Inquiry and believe that, following the appalling revelations of phone hacking, it is extremely important we get to the bottom of what happened at News International (now News Corp) and other newspapers. At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to fully implement Leveson’s recommendations.
There were two parts to the Leveson Inquiry. Part One looked into the culture, practices, and ethics of the press and was concluded in November 2012. A Royal Charter was then agreed in October 2013 by all parties and approved by Parliament, to formally establish the new independent press watchdog that Leveson recommended. However, several newspaper publishers rejected the Royal Charter and set up their own regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which launched in September 2014.
Part 2, which remains outstanding, is intended to look at the conduct within News International and other newspapers, and examine how the police investigated allegations of illegality including whether there was corruption. Part 2 would also consider implications for the relationships between newspaper organisations and the police, prosecuting authorities, and relevant regulatory bodies and recommend what actions, if any, should be taken.
I know there are widespread concerns about reports that the Government is set to break its promises and drop Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, as well as renege on its word to keep victims of press abuse at the centre of press regulation reform. I share these concerns.
The Government say it cannot proceed with Part 2 until all criminal investigations and trials related to Part 1 have been concluded. When the outstanding cases are completed, the Government say it will consult with Sir Brian Leveson before announcing the next stages.
I believe the Government has failed to implement the effective form of independent press regulation that Leveson recommended and which the Government signed up to as part of the cross-party agreement during the last Parliament. I believe the Government must keep its promise to the victims of phone hacking. Anything else would be another betrayal of the victims of press abuses and their families.
I want Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry to be established as swiftly as possible and I will continue to press the Government to deliver on its clear promises by fully implementing the cross-party agreement on Leveson’s recommendations.