LETTER: Leveson latest

I AM writing to express first my disbelief, and then my extreme disappointment, regarding the decision of David Cameron to by-pass the Leveson enquiry recommendations.

No doubt, the lobbying from the newspaper owners has convinced him that if he doesn’t do what they want, his party will suffer at their hands at the next election. This is the kind of power some parts of the press have had over our politicians in the past and, some would say, still do.

They (some parts of the press) like to think of themselves as a special group outside the law. For them, the freedom of the press is sacrosanct. The Leveson enquiry exposed just how outside the law they really are. They are not a special case. Every freedom comes with a proviso that you don’t hurt other people while exercising your “freedom”.

If you do, then the law should limit your freedom to protect other people’s freedom. We should limit the freedom of the press people to stop them from ruining other people’s lives. We should limit the freedom of the press when they tell lies for the purpose of selling newspapers. We should limit the freedom of the press when they break laws that respect people’s privacy. We should limit the freedom of the press when they stalk people, when they hound people, when they cluster round people’s door like a pack of hungry wolves.

To do this, we need a truly independent regulator and firm laws that are strong enough to deter the rich, powerful press owners and their employees from doing what they have been doing for decades and decades without any hope of justice for the victims of their criminality.

As far as a Royal Charter goes, if this were a new city being set up, it might suffice, but it is a non-starter when it comes to needing a democratic way to solve a long-standing problem like this. It’s about as democratic as the House of Lords. Just what a rich, privileged person would suggest, I suppose.

Mr Cameron asked Mr Justice Leveson to carry out the enquiry, and for most people he did a good job. His recommendations were nothing if not careful and measured. However, to the dismay of the victims, this David is no Goliath-fighter. He has now forgotten his promise to make sure that the phone hacking, the lying, the dirty unethical tricks and all the appalling practices that Leveson found should not be allowed to happen again.

If, after all the time and money spent on this, Mr Leveson’s findings are not acted upon in a proper, democratic way, it’ll be business as usual for the criminally inclined among the press and more victims in search of justice.

John Harris

Brighton Road