The Coalition splits on press regulation

Yesterday the long Leveson report produced different statements from the Prime Minister and from his Deputy. The Liberal Democrats opted for the less liberal option, leaving opinion very divided in the Commons and potential voting tight.

Amidst all the pages filled and ink spilled there was little debate over why people think Statutory regulation would work better. Where is the evidence that it does? The main faults in the press in recent years were crimes – they probably broke the law over eavesdropping and bribery in the worst cases. The answer is to enforce the law properly, and to bring cases to court where there is evidence. How does introducing a heavy handed Statutory Regulator help?

The Statutory Regulators in financial services, introduced in 2000, have not stopped financial crime or deterred it judging by the number of scandals and pending cases that have come out. They also presided over the collapse of large parts of the banking system they were meant to protect.

The irony of this debate on Leveson, ignoring the key question about effectiveness of regulation, is that it comes about at a time when the traditional papers are having the fight of their lives to survive. There is a danger that any Statutory Regulator would add to the cost burdens and the inflexibilities of these organisations just when they need to be cheaper and more flexible to combat the huge competitive challenge of the new media. Regulators tend to regulate the old or the decaying more than the new and the emerging, because they can measure it, talk to it and pin it down.

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138 Comments

  1. colliemum
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    ‘People’ think statutory regulations will work and are indeed necessary for two reasons:

    Firstly, there is the ever-increasing narrative about ‘victims’ which must be protected by the strong, paternalistic government. Wasn’t it Mr Miliband who said such regulations are owed the ‘victims’?

    Secondly, more and more people in the Western countries now prefer a strong government doing everything for them, from doling out money to telling them what to eat and drink. Whenever something happens where there’s an acceptable victim – a baby, a toddler, that sort of thing – the outcry is immediately that ‘something must be done’. This is of course propagated and picked up by our red tops, and used to pressure politicians into ‘doing something’ – from regulating the press to introducing dog licences.

    Sorry if this sounds glum, but there are too many straws in the wind for me to disregard the evidence that the idea of small, conservative government, is on the way out.

    So while the thought of ‘statutory regulations’ of the press, by the government, is more than abhorrent to me, I believe that this is what will happen, because while we don’t trust politicians, we can at least trust them to make nice rulz to hem in our freedoms – freedoms which the ever increasing majority of people don’t want any longer.

    • Jerry
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      @colliemum: Indeed, it is nice to have freedoms, to be vilified by the press, that really is some freedom, needing to go into hiding because some editor has decided on your guilt, without any court of law or jury being involved, and thus splashes the most salacious headlines about you all over the front page in an attempt to maximise the profits from that days publication.

      • Edward
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        But Jerry the example you outline is already illegal an dhas been for centuries.

        • Jerry
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          @Edward: Indeed, at least the civil law, but has that stopped the press, that’s half the issue!…

      • Adam5x5
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        To have the freedom to respond, to sue for libel/slander, to demand an apology.

        People can read an article and determine whether the paper is biased or reporting a fact.

        If an accusation is made in a regulated press, surely people will think this carries more weight as it must be government approved and therefore true?
        How would this be better than a free press which is not subject to government meddling (other than obeying the law)?

      • colliemum
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        Sorry for the late reply, but I assume you are talking about ‘celebrities’. The overwhelming majority of us are not celebrities in the first place, so your post doesn’t apply at all.

        Secondly – if these celebrities don’t want to be ‘in the headlines’ etc etc etc, then they ought not to behave in a caddish, dishonest and ‘salacious’ manner.
        And there is nothing wrong in the red tops to show up celebs as hypocrites when their PR machine presents a polished image while they behave in a way which would be condemned by all of us when our own family members did it.

        So your crocodile tears are misplaced – or do you want government, any government, tell the press what to write and about whom? Have a look in the history books, read up about Germany 1933-45.

        • Jerry
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          @colliemum: “I assume you are talking about ‘celebrities’.

          No I wasn’t, I had in mind people like Christopher Jefferies, totally innocent of any crime yet vilified by the tabloid media for nothing other than profit, so please don’t insult with accusations of crocodile tears…

          • Edward
            Posted December 1, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

            Jerry
            This man was able to sue the press under existing laws
            He received substantial financial compensation and if I recall some of the newspapers responsible ended up facing contempt of court charges.

          • Jerry
            Posted December 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            @Edward: He should not have had to, QED!

  2. Sidney Falco
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    To further support your argument I would point to IPSA.

    Some MPs have quickly found a way round the new rules by renting out their original tax payer mortgage funded properties and renting a different property in the same area.

    Well done to those MPs with enough intelligence to manipulate the system for their own financial benefit yet again.

    Side point:

    In the ’70s Thatcher caught onto the mood in the UK regarding the unions. The British people had finally had enough. It was ironic that the Labour party first published a white paper on it (“In place of Strife”) in the late ’60s but there was no political will to see it through then.

    Nigel Farage is doing the same with UKIP – witness last night’s results. At the same time the Conservatives are all over the shop.

    The mood of the UK is changing. The first party to capitalise on this will have at least two terms in power.

    Don’t get too comfy on those government benches Mr Redwood!

    • Sidney Falco
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      I forgot to add:

      After the 2014 EU elections there will be all out panic in the Tory party. Even I, as a former Tory voter, will find it funny to watch.

      • Winston Smith
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Yes. The EU elections will be vey interesting, as they will come after largescale immigration from Romania and Bulgaria, when restrictions end in December 2013.

        As we all know, Dave’s brand is toxic amongst Conservative voters. Outside of the middle-class luvvie enclaves of London, there just are not enough ‘liberal conservative’ voters to replace even 10% of the lost voters. I find it amazing that senior Conservatives, such as JR, are happy to just sit there and watch their Party diminish.

        • lifelogic
          Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          Indeed Cameron’s fake green, pro EU, soft socialism does not seem to be very popular in Rotherham or the north in general. If only he had put a sensible agenda to the country he would not now have the Libdems pulling the party under water.

          The Libdems seem even less popular coming 6th, it surprises me that anyone at all votes for them. Can we assume the BBC will now give UKIP fair coverage certainly more than the Libdems – not much chance with BBC think I suspect.

          Perhaps now is the time for Cameron to retract his loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists, remark and his “greater Switzerland” one too. Or perhaps if he stands by them he could try to defend them.

          Has anyone lost their job at social services in Rotherham yet, if not why not?

      • David in Kent
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        You might find it funny. I would find it sad when I consider all the damage that the Labour party has done to our economy, schools and society that you would prefer to have them back rather than continue with the Torys, for all their faults.

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          It is certainly not funny, the thought of Labour back in 2015, to mess the country up again, but with Cameron’s type of big state, big taxes, fake green, pro EU, socialism will it be much worse? It certainly looks inevitable without some 180 degree change of direction.

    • Jerry
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Nigel Farage is doing the same with UKIP – witness last night’s results. At the same time the Conservatives are all over the shop.

      On a very low turnout by all accounts, even were turnout was acceptable UKIP were on a bounce from the story (and one has to ask who leaked it to the press…) regarding those three foster children being removed, a traditionally held Lab seat and thus only the right of centre protest vote are likely to have bothered anyway Whilst the LibDem vote simply went back to home to Labour.

      But you are quite correct, if UKIP keep this up then they might well have a couple of Westminster seats, their MPs will be sitting alongside those of the Tories, on the oppression benched, attempting to oppose a Landslide Labour majority… Vote UKIP, get Labour!

      • Disaffected
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Vote Tory get Labour, vote Lib Dems catch a cold, waste of vote. The scare about letting Labour in is over. Cameron has carried on where Labour left off. You name it the Tory led Coalition fail to deliver on it. Anyone see the abysmal immigration figures sneaked out yesterday, or the Energy Bill also sneaked out that will cost all of us a fortune for the next ten years!!

        At the same time annuity rates drop and all those who paid into the UK tax pot will not be able to afford to retire because the government’s spend and waste is reducing gilt and bond yields that will decimate pensions.

        So those in the squeezed middle will be squeezed some more and required to work on instead of retiring, in some cases will not be able to afford to retire, to pay for those who choose life on welfare, overseas aid, EU contribution and an economically illiterate Energy Bill (nothing about their narrative of living longer, it is about Cameron and Clegg’s economic choice not to make cuts and keeps the country in a complete mess).

        Think about this when you vote- certainly not the Lib Lab Con trick.

        • Jerry
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

          @Disaffected: You really think that UKIP can win 300 odd seats, even 150, if so you are in dream lands, Vote UKIP get Labour. Clue, the voters are not leaving Labour, in fact it is a safe bet that Labour can increase their share of the vote by gaining disgruntled LibDem voters.

          Reply: Indeed. The msot important result of the 3 by elecitons was 3 Labour MPs, who polled well on average and in one case had a very large increase in percentage majority. Judged by these 3 elections Labour is very popular, not UKIP.

          • Disaffected
            Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

            No, JR is quite wrong. The point is vote for what you believe in, not the Tory con trick about Labour. JR wants people to vote tactically, they should not. They should vote for who they trust, their policies and what they believe in- Cameron is currently way out of the ball park and is in Brown territory. Cameron is a social democrat despite the rhetoric. Based on performance and outcome, no one in their right mind would believe a word Cameron or Clegg says.

            If the Tories were truly concerned they would not have gone into coalition and would not be following Labour policies. Also Cameron would not be commissioning former Labour politicians for key policy issue reports. He would ask people like JR. He does not. Cameron prefers ideas from Labour politicians to his own party, what does that say about his convictions? He claims to be a Liberal conservative, a pity he did not tell before the last election and I would not have wasted my vote.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        4 million Tory voters abstained at the last general election by all accounts.

        Mainly C1/C2 skilled and semi skilled workers – those successfully courted by Mrs Thatcher.

        I believe that my views are typical of these on most issues. As Frederick Forsyth says “Action this day !” (quoting Churchill)

        We will not be bought with empty promises for the next administration.

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          Infact I expect that many of the skilled workers are missing from the figures because they’ve emigrated.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            Yeah. Due to lack of work and low wages.

          • lifelogic
            Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            Indeed lack of work and low wages due to the over large state sector, lack of banking, expensive energy and a total lack of vision from Cameron.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

            No lifelogic it is due to the millions of EU immigrants brought in by the companies to address a so called skill shortage, but when asked as to where the jobs are the companies cannot tell so it really is a money shortage where EU migrants are paid not enough to live here in a hotel or rental property and are housed in some cases on old prison ships. The constant driving down of wages and conditions where work is avalible has lead many to leave for Australia and Canada. Not state dogma but private profiteering.

          • Edward
            Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

            In 1997 immigration was around 50,000 people per year. During the Labour years from 1997 it rose to over 250,000.
            To blame companies to bringing in cheap labour is ridiculous.
            Blame your Labour party, it is they who presided over the biggest ever inflow of immigrants into this country in its history driving down real wages and increasing unemployment.

      • IAN PENNELL
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 12:18 am | Permalink

        Dear Sir John Redwood

        The Leveson Report, the public clamour for regulation of the Press (ostensibly to stop Murdoch-supporting papers from hacking into peoples voice-mails and e-mails), and the fact that Labour and the Lib Dems together could get Press regulation pushed through ought to be very worrying for the future of the Conservatives: It is likely that Labour will get into Government next time and gerrymander the Press regulations to ensure that newspapers publish nothing offensive, or embarrassing about their Party; about the Public Sector (and certainly not about the NHS). Labour will lean on the Press as much as plausibly possible to ensure that the labour Government post-2015 gets favourable coverage, whilst the Tories and UKIP get critical coverage.

        Should the Tories lose the next General Election (sadly, Sir,- I myself won’t be voting for them, I’ve lost patience with David Cameron- and his special brand of socialist conservatism- some time ago) their chances of ever getting into power again will be virtually zero: Labour- with Constituency Boundaries still gerrymandered in their favour; an ever larger loyal Client State; and above all their ability to lean on the Press so that favourable pro-Labour propaganda keeps the electorate on-side- will probably remain in power for a very long time.

        [By the time Labour are kicked out (sometime around 2040) we will all irrevocably be part of the British Oblast in EUSSR, suffering zero growth, with 20% inflation and national [EU-wide] bankruptcy. Political Parties like UKIP will have been outlawed as a threat to “national security” (the Tories might just survive with the proviso they promise never to talk about “spending cuts” again- because semblance of democracy would be kept to make the EUSSR look like it has a democracy!). And a law will have been passed requiring all 500 citizens in the country (Turkey will also be part of the EUSSR)- to learn and speak fluent Esperanto!!]

        OK, maybe that last paragraph is a little pessimistic- but the possibility of the Left getting control of the Press- and gaining the chance to do Britain enormous economic, democratic and cultural harm- cannot be underestimated. That is how serious Leveson’s proposals are,- and all Conservative MPs with any sense should be doing their utmost to get any new press regulations voted down: Take your Liberal Democrat colleagues in the Coalition, lock them in with you;- as you (with the gravest sense of urgency) impart into them how dangerous Leveson’s central proposals are for our freedom and democracy. Spell out to the Liberal Democrats- very clearly- that there is NOTHING either Liberal OR Democratic about wanting statutory press regulation.

        Ian Pennell

        • Bazman
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

          I don’t think Mr Redwood has been knighted yet, but like myself, there is still time.

          • Edward
            Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            Im amazed to hear you would ever accept a gong from the wicked capitalist esablishment Baz!

        • Bazman
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          It would be rude not to.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted December 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

            They do say that hypocracy is simply good manners.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The whole issue is a pointless and huge distraction from the real issues of getting growth and cutting state sector waste. The criminal and libel laws are sufficient together with some sensible controls on absurdly excessive legal costs and their allowability in actions.

    Unfortunately Cameron has lumbered the Tories with the Libdems – the result of the pro EU, socialist, fake green agenda that he put to the nation. As a result we may well end up with some disastrous state control of the press. I do hope not.

    • Jerry
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: Why is it disastrous state regulation of the press (not state control, no one is suggesting the creation of a TASS like body) but it is OK to have such regulation of the broadcast media, are you in favour of allowing self-policing in broadcasting and the removal of regulations as to what can and can’t be broadcast and when etc?

      • lifelogic
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Yes just as there is in books within the existing laws, but the BBC is an exception with the BBC we are all forced to pay for our own indoctrination. It clearly is not unbiased at all and always, without fail, takes the fake green, pro EU, ever bigger state and taxes line, despite its charter and the regulation.

        • Jerry
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic, having got that rant against the BBC off your chest, care to now answer the question actually asked… Are you in favour of total deregulation of all forms of mass media in the UK – a simple yes or no will suffice?

          • lifelogic
            Posted December 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

            Yes. Just controlled by the usual laws relating to contempt of court, protection of minors, libel, advertising laws and the likes. I am certainly against anything that lets politicians have any control, direct or otherwise, over licencing of publications or fining them. The last thing I want is someone like Lord Patten over seeing them.

            Anyway, with the internet such controls simply will not work.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      I am glad to see that even during these flood the councils have been diligently keeping up their provision of “public services” by ticketing all cars stranded in the flood water. All those high wages and pensions to pay I suppose.

      Where would we be without these vital and 50% overpaid and pensioned public servants.

      I also read in the Telegraph yesterday “Patients held in contempt by NHS says health chief” certainly this is alas often the case. Well they have paid already and are just a nuisance when they turn up for treatment, aren’t they. Free at the point of rationing, delay and contempt it seems.

      • John Doran
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        Ref your comment above re the internet, Lifelogic, it is worrying to note that the UN, & Pres Obama have tried to gain control over the internet, under the guise of both “war on terror”, & “copyright protection”.

        We can only hope they dont succeed.

    • Disaffected
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic, you are correct again. The elections yesterday should cause Cameron a moment to pause and think. If he fails to act he will see his party in opposition for a very long time and Clegg’s undoubtedly annihilated . I am absolutely bewildered why Cameron would listen and give so much ground to the Lib Dems when the public dislike them so much. He must have understood this from the TV debates when the ratings plummeted when Clegg spoke about defence, immigration etc.

      Ed Davey introduced the Energy Bill which is tantamount to economic madness. This will cost taxpayers a fortune so the Tory led coalition (promoted by the Lib Dems) can comply with a fictitious emission target by the EU. Canada will not entertain it the global warming nonsense and even the green Obama has made a U turn. People will not tolerate it and will vote appropriately at the next elections- local, European and general. Is there anyone in the Tory party, other than Nick Clegg, who can influence Cameron and Osborne?

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Indeed Ed Davey’s Energy Bill is tantamount to economic suicide.

  4. Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Our regulators who are based out of London and who are not interfered with by politicians clearly do have an extremely positive effect on the areas of society they regulate.

    • Mr. Frost
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Examples please.

      • David in Kent
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Pharmaceutical and biotech drug development.
        Onerous regulation has led to increasing expenditure and declining productivity. Now we spend the money but we don’t get many new drugs and those we do get have to be priced at a very high level to pay for all that investment in research which is now spread over smaller sales.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          The regulations are strict because if a drug isn’t properly tested you end up with the problems Thalidomide caused. The regulations also ensure that the drug works as it should, that the most common side effects are documented, which drugs shouldn’t be combined with it, and that patients are given information that is easy to understand.

          The initial price is very high so the company can make as much money as possible because once the patent runs out any company can make a cheaper generic version of this drug.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Which regulators?

  5. Lord Blagger
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Shows how incompetent MPs are when they have to be told what to do by an unelected judge responsible to no-one.

    Democracy? There is no democracy.

    The cat however is out of the bag. Legislate, and you’ll drive some more newspapers over the edge. After all, its more regulation.

    (points lut some media outlets are offshore making it difficult to tyax or discipline them) It’s all about IP and you can’t tax IP anymore. That’s what Amazon, Apple etc have worked out. It’s the same with the rich who’ve left since you whacked them with taxes.

    So back to the 4.7 trillion hidden off the books. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_263808.pdf Page 4.

    How are you going to pay people’s pensions? Ah yes. Its not the way it works. (Reply:As I have regularly explained, the state pension scheme has always been pay as it goes.. I know you dont like this,, but it has always been like this and this has not upset most people. I cannot recall it ever being a major issue in an election.)

    • uanime5
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      MPs appointed a judge to investigate the problems with the media so they would have an unbiased report. It’s an important part of democracy that Parliament can obtain information that isn’t subject to political bias.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:52 am | Permalink

        Agreed. So the BBC needs to be reformed, n’est cs pas?

  6. Steve Cox
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Perhaps people should be reminded just how much existing regulators fail to act in their best interests, and then they may blow a little cooler over the idea? Why have water bills, electricity bills, gas bills and train fares all gone through the roof when these industries are all highly regulated, supposedly to ‘protect the consumer’? And then there was the enormous disaster of the hopelessly inept and inadequate FSA, the regulator of the banks during the run up to the 2007 crisis. Do people really think that regulatory bodies in this country always act in their best interest? Are they really that stupid? I would also suggest that most of those politicians, and members of the great and the good, who are making the loudest noises in favour of regulation are those who either have an axe to grind because the press has caught them out in the past with their trousers down, literally in some cases…….., or else those who have the most to hide and therefore the most to fear from a free press.

    • Jerry
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      @Steve Cox: If you are correct then the print media has nothing what so ever to be afraid of from such regulation, if it really is such a toothless tiger and in cahoots with their industries!

      Why is it that the broadcast (and some argue the internet) media require regulation but the print media not?…

      • Mark
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        You are right that the broadcast media in the form of the BBC requires some form of regulation, as they seem to have exempted themselves from any independent oversight (the self-appointed BBC Trust hardly counts), FoI request, etc.

        • Jerry
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          @Mark: You would not be saying that if the output of the BBC competed with that of Fox News for an audience I bet…

      • Steve Cox
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, I think you failed to grasp my implication, which several other bloggers below clearly did understand. The supposedly independent regulator would in reality be appointed by politicians, and so be in thrall to them, much as the supposedly independent BoE is today. The press regulator would inevitably end up in the pockets of the powerful and well-connected, just as all the other regulators have, rather than acting in the interest of the little people. Then please tell me quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

        Mr. Cameron memorably stated wrt Scottish independence that he did not become PM of the United Kingdom to see it broken up. Thankfully he also appears to treasure a freedom that is just as old.

        • Jerry
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          @Steve Cox: FFS, the law is made by politicai8ns too, does that mean the law should be scraped and a wi8ld west culture allowed?!

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Regulators in these areas often become too close to the regulated and form a cosy relationship which fail to protect the public. In the case of press regulation, there is the far greater danger that the rich and powerful, take control of what is, or is not printed.

      • Jerry
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        @Lifeligic: Nothing can be as close as the relationship between the PCC and the newspapers, when newspaper owners/editors are those who are passing judgement on their fellow owners/editors it is a bit akin to putting an alcoholic in charge of a brewery. Thus an “Ofcom” style regulator will thus be an improvement how ever valid your comments are!

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          No long term it would be a disaster for democracy.

          • Jerry
            Posted December 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: So the press printing lies about people is good for democracy?…

            No one is suggesting the creation of a UK version of TASS.

    • Edward.
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Oversight committees, that’s all they ever were, no power, no sense, no idea – regulating watchdogs – what a laugh.

      • Edward
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        Hi Edward,
        Can you be Edward 2 or another name so there isn’t any confusion.
        I wouldn’t want Bazman shouting at you thinking it was me!

    • Mark
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Please remember that by law OFGEM is required to put the interests of the green energy industry ahead of those of consumers. You have Ed Miliband and his 2010 Energy Act to thank.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        (wrong) as usual.

    • Patrick Loaring
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Steve, I entirely agee with you. There is a lot of humbug about.

  7. Jerry
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    What a waste of time and money, “The King is dead (the PCC), long live the King (PCC Mk2 [1])”…!

    Can someone please explain what is so different between the various types of media industry, in this country the broadcast media is regulated via a statutory body (Ofcom) but the print media is not, thus we have the absurd situation were exactly the same headline and story, obtained in the same underhand way can appear in two different mediums, in one a statutory body can deliver effective sanctions but in the other there is nothing anyone can do (outside of the industries own self-policing, and nothing under the Mr Cameron’s proposals will change in this respect) – other than carry on using civil law in an attempt to obtain redress, but because the profits from a single print run of even a totally fictional and salacious story can far exceed any damages that the court might award there is little for the press barons to be worried about, even if the victim can afford to risk having to pay the court fees and costs etc. should they loose…

    [1] or is it Mk3, might even be Mk9…

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Why not go the other way and remove State regulation from the broadcasting media? Don’t worry about the BBC and its so called ‘independence’. Government can just cut its revenue until it reforms itself.

  8. Simonro
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Currently the press is regulated by criminal law, and the torts relating to libel, copyright, and maybe a some others I don’t know about.

    We could have an NGO that can provide arbitration on civil matters, and present evidence to the police for criminal matters, that is independent of the press, and staffed by legal professionals rather than government appointees or newspaper editors.

    If ( a newspaper owner) still didn’t want to be a member, then it could provide free or no-win-no-fee legal representation for those who need to sue him and his rag.

    I.e. we could have a professional and independent version of the PCC with teeth, rather than a wet blanket with vested interests.

    On shore internet news sources are no harder to regulate than print news – easier in some respects because they are rarely backed by expensive lawers.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    If only we had trust in the Police and Politicians to do the right thing.

    Alas we do not, so what hope the Press.

    Chances are another quango, another complicated and expensive mess, where no one is to be held to account.

    Perhaps we restrict all organisations which start with a P !.

    • alan jutson
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Given this is being held in moderation, let me expand.

      Police examples:
      Hillsborough and miners strikes where statements were altered (etc), and in the recent phone hacking saga, where no action taken at all.

      Politicians examples:
      Expenses, employment of personally known (sometimes even family)staff/advisors, and an unhealthy closeness to some lobbyists.

      John, Fully aware it is only some politicians and some policemen, but the above has been well documented, and the few bad ones unfortunatelty get more publicity than the good ones.

      Listened to you on Radio 5 Live this morning, certainly agree that the average person cannot sue for libel as it is far, far too expensive.
      The solution is surely to have a right to a retraction printed as large as the original article, and to appear on the same page as the original.
      May make for better journalism, as too many retractions and there would be no room for any new reports.
      Indeed if too many retractions were printed the customers would stop purchasing such a poorly edited newspaper.
      Thus poorly run papers would go to the wall.

      Reply: Yes, if we had not lost the line I was going to develop the need for better redress for people who cannot afford libel lawyers, with proper retratctions printed.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        reply -reply

        Thought you were on a limited time, as presenter said something like:

        Mr Redwood has now left/had to go.

        Perhaps they were censoring you !!!!!!

  10. Wilko
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    If people want a free press, should they buy newspapers?

  11. Chris
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Am very much against statutory regulation. People should not be lulled by the soothing words of Harriet Harman. If there is a law, there is no guarantee that it will not be “abused” by a later administration. We have only to look at the abuse of the RIPA powers by local authorities, many of them Conservative, to see what can happen – “good guys”can and will do bad things. Furthermore, who is the guardian/overseer of the LAs? Eric Pickles seems powerless, and ironically it would seem that the overzealous LAs need to be legislated against to stop them abusing their powers.

    • Bob
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Well I must say, the FSA did a splendid job of regulating the banks.

    • Mark
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      I do wonder whether RIPA lies at the heart of the “anonymous tipoff” in the Rotherham adoption case. It would be a simple matter to demand a list of websites and email addresses under RIPA to infer – sometimes wrongly – the opinions of a voter. Such petty vendettas are an entirely foreseeable consequence of granting those powers so indiscriminately.

  12. oldtimer
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Statutory regulation, however mild at its inception, will be used by politicians to exercise increasing control over the print media over time. Self interest will see to that. For that reason I am against it.

    As it is, politicians already exercise a degree of control through D Notices (which most accept) and more subtly through the lobby system. I have past experience, and evidence from a journalist who knew the facts, that a Minister lied to my face denying comments he made to a a political journalist. The lobby system is pernicious in the way it enables politicians to manipulate the press. Statutory regulation will merely strengthen their hands to do so more comprehensively.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Can you name any regulators that have been used by politicians to exert increased control over any industry? If not then why do you believe this will happen for print media.

      Reply: Just look at the increasing political interference in finance.

      • Jerry
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        @Reply: Indeed, but that is after many many years of “light touch” regulation (that was less regulation than went before) which in turn was a prime cause of the excesses in the sector that eventually brought many banks and the like to the point of collapse or beyond.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Would that be bailing them out John?

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 2:33 am | Permalink

          That would include the wholly UNNECESSARY bailing out of banks, when sending in an administrator and not buying shares was all that was needed. Brown’s folly has so far cost the UK taxpayer £33 billion, the difference between what the government payed for RBS and Lloyds shares and the current value of those shares. And until those shares are sold back to the private sector, there is no guarantee that it won’t get worse.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

            They were to big to fail. How would the public have reacted to lost savings and cash machines without money?

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:56 am | Permalink

            Too big to fail was not the issue. Ensuring that shareholders took 100% of the hit was the issue – hence the need for administrators and due diligence before ANYBODY bought ANY shares.

    • Jerry
      Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      @oldtimer: D-notices aside, the broadcast media has always been regulated but that hasn’t stopped either the BBC or the commercial broadcasters from both breaking and reporting hard hitting news stories. It seems to me that the real fight is not in the reporting of news but the reporting of gossip and tital-tallal, were such stories could almost be described as the Lost-Leaders of the Tabloid media – yes we might get sued but we have already made a profit in excess of any damages we might need to pay out.

  13. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    There is also the issue of providing a practical means of redress for those people who believe they have been libelled.

    I know we have the example of Lord McAlpine, but for the vast majority embarking on civil litigation is a daunting prospect. The problem of fairness in small-man v big-man cases seems unresolved, and if anything is becoming more of a problem generally.

    Probably many who feel they have been wronged simply want the wrong put right without seeking financial compensation. The correction needs to be prominent and permanent, and not hidden in small type on an inside page. It seems to me this is an area where a Regulator could be effective. It also seems to me sensible to count the number of offences, and like the diving licence, too many offences results in a more severe consequence.

    • Mark
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      I think you’re right to talk about the small man. There should be a small claims libel court, which would allow cases against media (I would include broadcast media as well as the press) to be brought without hiring expensive lawyers. The main restitution would be in publications of apologies given the same prominence and space/time as the offending libel, with rather more token monetary damages which might be payable by the journalist and editor rather than a corporation.

      At the same time the power of the rich to muzzle the press merely through the threat of a large libel action, or through gaining a super-injunction whose very existence is supposed to remain secret, should be tempered.

  14. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Whoever, or whatever, is going to do the regulation the regulator must be given the authority, responsibility and resources.

    And there also needs to be means by which the Regulator is held to account as to the proper exercising of the responsibilities within the authority given, and also to ensure the resources are appropriate for the task. Could this be done by a Parliamentary Select Committee?

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The serious misdemeanors which brought about the Leveson enquiry of the press were illegal acts. This was a failure of law enforcement not regulation. I fail to see how statutory regulation makes any difference to this illegal behaviour but it does allow politicians to begin to interfere with the free press. Labour would like the state to control everything and many politicians are looking for revenge after they were shown to be at best abusing their allowances and at worst acting illegally. Press freedom should not be lost by default.

  16. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Perhaps BBC resources could be used to help provide a means of redress for those defamed in the print media. After all, the BBC have more TV broadcasting capability than they not what to do with. Further the iPlayer would provide a permanent, available record in the public domain.

    It would work a bit like the Parliamentary Channel: BBC broadcasting resources would be used but the editorial control would be very strictly limited and prescribed. Defamation Watch anyone?

  17. Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Politicians seem to love making new laws, usually without considering whether they are practical or will do any good. The Dangerous Dogs laws were typical, rushed in without much thought and seeming to be totally useless.
    Looking at what happened at the News of the World, the fact that various people have now been charged with a number of offences shows that there are existing laws which should have been enforced, probably much sooner.
    Unless some new criminal offence is to be defined, it would seem that the existing laws are adequate; why do we need a statutory regulatory body to oversee that the press are obeying the laws of the country, surely that is a job for the police as with other laws.
    The only change that I would suggest is some easier way for an aggrieved individual to seek redress if necessary, as only the wealthy can afford to take the press to court. Perhaps an equivalent of the Small Claims Courts for complaints against the press might be an appropriate route, but to me, major legislation seems totally unnecessary.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      As part of all the law making process after the second reading experts are allowed to comment on the bill and their recommendations are incorporated into the third reading. So the practicality of all laws is considered.

      Given that the police didn’t prosecute sooner and accepted money from certain newspapers it’s clear the the current system needs to be changed because it doesn’t work.

      I’d recommend a defamation tribunal for those who have been libelled by the media. It would be run the same way as an employment tribunal.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Certainly a small claims libel court would be a good idea. The amount sued for would be capped and both plaintif and defendent would need to agree to the simplified (and cheaper) procedures.

    • Jerry
      Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Looking at what happened at the News of the World, the fact that various people have now been charged with a number of offences shows that there are existing laws which should have been enforced, probably much sooner.

      By then it is too late for some even if the civil/criminal law acts once the newsprint hit the news-stands (and now the internet), even if the editor later admit to a libel and pays millions in damages for some of the innocent the mud will have stuck that no amount of redress will amend.

  18. Bryan
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    With the Libdems once more acting like spoiled children who have been denied their sweets, the Opposition again get the weapons to attack the Conservatives in Parliament.

    The country is NOT being best served by this Coalition, consensus politics is not in play, and the Libdems are dragging the Conservatives back into opposition in the ‘vain’ hope that they, the Libdems, will form a coalition with Labour after the next election. Unfortunately (fortunately?) for them, Labour will get such a huge majority next time that their presence, if any, in Parliament will not be needed nor wanted.

    Time for Mr Cameron to renege on another pledge and drop the Coalition now for minority rule – if an early election is forced then so be it. At least we may see some of the backbone so badly lacking thus far.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      Consensus politics means finding common ground to agree on, not kowtowing to the Conservatives. The Lib Dems are free to side with Labour if they can’t agree with the Conservatives on this issue.

      Given the result of the recent by-elections don’t expect early elections to be supported by the Conservatives or the Lib Dems.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 2:36 am | Permalink

        I am all in favour of the government providing parliamentary time to the Labour and LibDem parties to table their joint Statutory Regulation Bill. Give them enough rope to hang themselves, that’s what I say.

  19. stred
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    While supporting any system of regulation which allows victims of the gutter press to obtain rapid apologies and compensation, there was an aspect of the report which is very worrying. There is, apparently, a proposal that journalists should be barred from obtaining non-attributable briefings from public employees. Since the misdeeds of publicly financed bodies can only be made available to the public by leaks, this would be disastrous. The ‘liberal-socialist’ establishment must relish this proposal.

    We have recently seen how the ministries, health trusts, police and councils react when any employee gives away what they wish to hide. Damien (GReen?) was raided in his home when he gave away information obtained from the Home Office under Labour. The police have raided the homes of journalists and used a sledgehammer to crack a nut, following the adverse publicity about the age old problem of bribe taking for information.

    All that is required is a ban on the bribes- not on the information.

  20. Bob
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Agree with you one hundred percent Mr. Redwood.
    Instead of calling for new rules the Leveson Report should be asking for existing laws to be properly enforced.

    I notice that the BBC invited Alan Rusbridger to comment on this subject on the Toady Program. Frankly, I would rather hear the opinions of a paper with a far wider circulation than the Guardian.

    Can’t wait for the Newsnight exposé of the Guardian’s tax arrangements, but I won’t be holding my breath.

  21. Leslie Singleton
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    UKIP over 20% in one seat, Liberals losing their deposits twice and coming in eighth–these are the kind of press headlines I like to see, controlled or otherwise. Dear John, Will you admit this is at least nearly a breakthrough? God alone help the wretched Tories in general once UKIP do break through. As a former member I shall dance on their grave. It must be terrible for ordinary decent Tory MP’s to have to live through this and be able to do so little about it.

    Replt The PCC elections, the last national elections, were poor for UKIP. Two second places in seats Labour won easily does not constitute a break through.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply–First, I cannot believe that you would refer in this way to the silly and irrelevant PCC elections. Secondly, I said “nearly” a breakthrough and I wasn’t talking vis a vis Labour. I’m sorry but you seem blind to what UKIP is doing, and increasingly so, to the Conservative Party. BTW–Didn’t Cameron set up Leveson? Only he could do this then veto the recommendation. Even the setting up of the enquiry was dubious to me, meaning why should a Judge (who specialises in Law and is not exactly a man of the people–personally I had never heard of him, not that that means much I admit ) have so much say?

      Reply: I am not blind to what UKIP are doing, and have written about it here. Nothing has happened recently to change the analysis I have given before. Others seem blind to what 100 plus Conservative Eurosceptic MPs are doing, where we have persuaded the government to a change of policy, securing a No to the Fiscal treaty, a pledge to negotiate a new relationship for the UK with the EU and now pressing for a referendum. These changes have nothing to do with UKIP and everything to do with the Conservative party. Why are England and Wales wide elections that UKIP do badly in irrelevant? It was the last test of opinion to settle who holds power. I seem to remember Conservatives won and Independents came second, followed by Labour.

      • Bob
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

        Re JRs’s reply
        ” a pledge to negotiate a new relationship for the UK with the EU “

        Fantasy politics.
        With the EU it’s a ratcheting operation, any concessions given will be temporary and short lived.

  22. Adam5x5
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Another example of (as colliemum says) the further drifting away of society from self-reliance.

    People now expect everything to be done for them – a culture fostered by the left with the ‘big government’ ethos. Gone are the days where people would be expected to fend for themselves and the dole was seen only as an emergency safety net for those unfortunate enough to lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

    Not all of us are wanting more regulations and government interference. The idea of government regulation of free speech and the press is abhorrent. It goes against everything our ancestors have fought for over thousands of years.
    The notion that the body will be truly independent is ridiculous – IPSA has already been mentioned, a body that is supposed to be independent of ministerial interference, now the speaker wishes to stack the panel with placemen. Who is to say this new regulatory press body will be different?

    Control of the press is one of the first steps to autocracy and while our democratic system is not perfect (none of them are), it is a lot better than being dictated to.

    I will be writing to my MP condemning these plans.

    “I disagree with everything you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
    Evelyn Beatrice Hall

    • uanime5
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Gone are the days where people would be expected to fend for themselves and the dole was seen only as an emergency safety net for those unfortunate enough to lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

      Gone are the days when you could walk out of school and into a job. As long as there’s 2 million more unemployed people than there are jobs expect 2 million people to live on the dole.

      The idea of government regulation of free speech and the press is abhorrent.

      The Government already regulates both. There’s several statutes that prohibit defamation, incitement to commit crimes, harassment, and racism; all of which are against free speech.

      It goes against everything our ancestors have fought for over thousands of years.

      How exactly does killing people for not being Christians or not being the right type of Christian count as promoting free speech? If anything our ancestors have fought against free speech and were finally forced to accept it after the ECHR and HRA were created (until the HRA free speech was a privilege not a right, as shown by many defamation cases).

      • Bob
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        @uanime5
        We didn’t go to war with the Nazis because they weren’t Christian, we did it to stop them from enslaving the world.

        You should remember that.

  23. Wilko
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The Leveson Report helpfully ventilated truth about newspapers’ past. Less than one thousandth of it dealt with internet communication.

    Recommendations concern the future.

    ‘Press’ is old, based on letters pressing ink onto paper, with ‘news’ delivered inefficiently late on trucks. Americans dumping newspapers drop an equivalent of half a million trees into landfill every week. Quaint press withers.

    A new newspaper would create growth, with jobs for tree fellers, truck drivers, oil producers, pollution checkers & more. Delivering Royal Mail by donkey would create similar growth.

  24. Phil P
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Can someone explain to me if free press means that they can do what they want without any come back so print what they want hmm i for beleave we have a right to now what is happening where it concerns us i.e a MP is skimming money that isnt his but do i care or want to know if he is spending his saturday knights in a tutu calling him self sally free press yes invasion of privacy NO

  25. Peter Griffiths
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Statutory regulation would be not required if the watchdog had real bite. I think most would agree that the current system is not working and that regulation should be truly independent, tougher and penalties more severe. Perhaps fines large enough to make the media proprietors eyes water might concentrate minds – say £10million plus or maybe restriction on sales or advertising.

    I rather suspect that the press and media conform to the old 80/20 rule in that 80%, while not as pure as the driven snow, can be trusted not to overstep the mark (wherever that mark is deemed to be) but the other 20% would do so without a moments thought. However that 20% includes a very small minority would would go far beyond that point into the realms of illegality and immorality. Statutory enforcement would be an expensive and unnecessary method of curbing those excesses by the small minority which would fall on the rest of the media spectrum.

    We already have state intervention in too much of our lives, as individuals and as groups, that we do not need more.

    BTW – the 80/20 rule works with industry and politicians too and perhaps we need that 20% to shine a light into their dark corners as well.

  26. merlin
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    To repeat

    1) less regulation

    2) Less government

    3) Less taxation

    4) less laws

    5) less lawyers

    6) More UKIP

    Last night UKIP the best ever result in a UK election.

    16 times increase in vote over 1.6 increase for Liebour

    Second party in the North of England

    • APL
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      merlin: “Last night UKIP the best ever result in a UK election.”

      An article asking why does the Tory party split the UKIP vote?

      The fact is the old parties are Frankinstein monsters, once upon a time they may have represented their membership, but both no, all three of the main parties now only represent the metropolitan elite, and increasing numbers of the rank and file of all three of the major parties are recognizing the fact.

      The result, plummeting party membership.

  27. Atlas
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    President Putin will be pleased if we regulate our own press because we’ll have lost the moral high-ground to complain about his actions in Russia.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Unless we start jailing journalists, rather than fining companies, we’ll still have the moral high ground.

      • Edward
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Uni,
        We are already in a legal process which could end with the jailing of journalists.
        Journalists can and have been jailed in this country in the past
        There are numerous existing laws to control the press
        Best to get these working better first before rushing to pass even more laws

  28. outsider
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, You are right about general law versus press regulation. Newspapers and TV are very careful about libeling the living because they know it can cost them a lot of money, albeit usually in civil courts. Likewise they are very careful about contempt of court because it is enforced pretty strictly. They did not worry about offences under eg the laws about electronic communications and privately held information because these laws were not enforced.

    As so often, the answer is to have fewer, clearer laws so that they are understood and the police are capable of enforcing them, not lots more laws that depend on voluntary compliance alone because there is no resource to enforce them.

    It would also help if it were easier and more practical for ordinary folk to sue for libel under no-win-no-fee arrangements but the Establishment has instead just passed a Bill making this harder.

  29. Mungojerry
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    The problem cannot be resolved by creating new laws but by implementing those that already exist first. Phone tapping was illegal but no one bothered to investigate or prosecute it until Milly Dowler. Paedophilia and grooming for prostitution are all illegal. Licensing laws exist but it is easier to raise the price of alcohol than remove or restrict a license from a public house or supermarket who have been selling without taking care. The Police, Crown Prosecution Service and Licensing Authorities have all taken the easy way out and ignored the law. It is easier to prosecute a householder who defends his property than to find and prosecute the burglar.

  30. Neil Craig
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    The traditional papers deserve to be fighting for survival. The problem is not that the press is too investigative but that it is too obsequious to the state already.

    I could easily name a dozen impoortant news stories that have gobne viral, online, proving that they arre not merely of public interest but also of interest to the public, which have been censored byu our state broadcaster and almost wholly censored by our “free” press. The most recent is 28gate whereby it is now literally impossible for anybody who is both informed and hjonest to deny that the entirer BBC have lied, deliberately, for years, knowing there was no scientific basis for their glo9bal warming claims.

    Since it broke the purpose of the state broadcaster has been to cenosr the story to in a desperate attempt to keep the public uninformed. The fact that we do not have a free press is proven by the fact that they, with a few honourable exceptions, have supported the BBC’s totalitarian campaign.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      I could name a dozen videos on youtube that have gone viral but are of no public interest (most involve cats). Just because something goes viral doesn’t mean it is true or important.

    • Bob
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      @Neil Craig
      ” the purpose of the state broadcaster has been to censor the story “

      Same goes for the situation in Iceland, total news blackout.
      Without the internet we would be totally unaware of what is going on there.

  31. James Matthews
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I see 38 degrees is canvassing views of press regulation. In their usual “unbiased” fashion they off a range of choices from very important to unimportant, but not this is a really bad idea which should be rejected. Basically this is just a left wing attempt to gag the press.

  32. Edward
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    There are already plenty of laws concerning libel, slander and defamation and other laws already exist on hacking into PC’s, phones and e-mails etc.

    Most of the victims are already able to get legal redress and we will see shortly several high profile court cases involving staff from newspapers who have been charged and with some serious offences.

    I do not wish to see state regulation of the press, but a more powerful and quick acting PCC could be an improvement.

  33. Chris
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Am very concerned by this statement from an EU political officer. Emphasises even more why we need to have freedom of the press, and not ruled by statute:
    “…Marie-Madeleine Kanellopoulou, a political officer for the European Commission based in London, was earlier reported as saying: “We are following the Leveson Inquiry to see the outcome. In the United Kingdom we have to deal with a very eurosceptical British public and that’s not helped by the hostile audience in the British press.

    “We want to engage with the media, with stakeholders and non-governmental organisations … but repeated misrepresentation in the media was making communication of the true facts about EU policy difficult.” She added: “We are trying to rebut EU myths in the press but it is not easy because the PCC has a limited remit.”

    But Farage – who was among the victims of phone hacking, the illegal practice that led to the setting up of the inquiry – warned of the “very real danger in having statutory regulation of the press”. In a statement he said: “Powerful organisations will want to use it to stifle debate and close down differing points of view. A threat to press freedom could create a real threat to freedom across the board.

    “We must stay true to our belief in an untrammelled free press in order that we can have real, cut and thrust debate about all aspects of public policy. These comments from the commission are frankly chilling.” However, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the EU commission, has in the past described press freedom as “sacred”.
    http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/2798/stay-true-to-free-press-urges-farage-on-leveson#ixzz2DdrVB5PT

  34. David John Wilson
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    There is very little if any danger in having a statutory regulator hose job is solely to ensure that the independent body reponsible for controlling the press is just that, independent.

    The terms of reference of the regulator can be clearly set to limit its powers to just that function.

    Why don’t we just look at the success of regulation in Ireland instead of raising worries that need not exist.

  35. Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    So Lord Justice Leveson hath Pontificated on the Press. Will this apply to the BBC & TV journalism as well?
    I know that they have a Charter but who sees to it that they comply? Heaven forbid that the State should control the Press but it should oversee what the Beeb is up to.
    Have you heard anything from Patton yet?

  36. Ilma
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the law should be for a statutory duty to instigate legal compliance statements by media companies (not just print) to adhere to both the law and code of conduct, and require employment contracts that mean immediate suspension and investigation by the independent regulator for alleged non-compliance (of the employee or contractor). The statutory instrument could also require full disclosure by the employer to the regulator of all information pertaining to the non-compliance, with heavy fines and other sanctions if failure to do so, i.e. make it illegal for employers to protect employees when it’s known they have broken the law or code. The reporter knows then that they must behave. This is similar to the culture of non-tolerance of unethical commercial and financial practices that many companies now enforce with their employees.

    Dogged and determined reporting should and must continue, our democracy depends on it, but that must be balanced with ensuring there is a true basis and target for an investigation, and not some of the illegal and distasteful ‘side investigations’ and unwarrented personal intrusions into relatives lives that have happened.

    Ultimately, the chief Editors of the media companies must enforce standards in their organisations such that the standard of reporting is enhanced. That, and not law, is the best protection of the individual in a free society.

  37. Dick Sawdon Smith
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    My worry is that press regulation from government is the slippery slope. Look at those MPs who tried to get the expenses fiddles hushed up. Imagine also if we had to rely on the BBC for all our information. Just try to think how many people they have interviewed over the new energy bill. All the usual green suspects but no one who may wish to put another view over the claims about carbon emmisions.

  38. Pleb
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    John, UKIP are rising very fast with the LibDems being destroyed (the last three elections). Unless there is a lot of changes the next election is a labour shoe in with a very big possibility of a UKIP presence on the benches. Does the leadership still claim its just mid term blues?. Won’t they accept that this country wants out of the forth richt or is it head in the sand for the remaining two years?
    Is it possible that some Conservative MPs realising that their seat will be lost might cross to UKIP?

    Reply: As I have explained before, this strategy does not work. UKIP did badly at the last national elections for PCCs. It got two seond places and one third place in safe Labour seats, and the Conservatives got a second place. The national poll rating still does not show it anywhere near winning a Westmionster seat. What is making a difference to the leadership is the views of over 100 Conservative MPs in the Commons on EU matters, and the shifting voting balance on the EU in the Commons as a result.

    • JimF
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      I think Jr you will soon have to concede that the likelihood of ukip eating into the Tory vote by 10℅ in 2015 is going to have an earthquake effect on the attitude of your party’s leadership. In 2 years your particular strategy has gained something but very little in the way of traction frankly. Can’t you at least concede that ukip picking up 10% to 22% mainly from Tory voters and the libdems losing deposits might have some marginal effect on how your leaders view these 2 parties’ support?

      Reply: Probably not, given the very poor showing of UKIP in the PCC elections, the failure to come second in Croydon etc. The votes that worry the government far more at the moment are votes of MPs in the Commons.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Nevertheless, the Conservative Party needs a manifesto that will appeal to UKIP voters and Conservative candidates for MP that lend the manifesto credibility. It won’t be enough to say that the Conservative Party will negotiate a new deal with the EU. The manifesto must spell out both the negotiating position and the bottom line – minimum acceptable recovery of powers. Nothing less will do.

      The Wilson governments of 1974 promised a fundamental renegotiation of our accession to the EEC as it then was. In the event, the renegotiation was narrowly focused. As a condition of completing the renegotiation, the continental powers insisted that the Wilson government would recommend a ‘Yes’ vote in the 1975 in/out referendum. That happened and it was a major factor in delivering the ‘Yes’ vote of 2:1 in favour of staying in. We won’t be conned again.

  39. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, JR, I wonder whether you’ve seen this comment from the Dutch PM Rutte, reported in today’s Open Europe bulletin:

    http://www.openeurope.org.uk/Article?id=9637

    “We want to allow a country to leave the eurozone if it wishes to. At the moment that is not the case. A country can only give up the euro if it leaves the EU. We should revise the Treaties to change that. We are ready for this.”

    So Rutte is ready for it, but is Cameron ready for it?

    In the past I suggested some EU treaty changes Cameron that should have demanded in exchange for his assent to European Council Decision 2011/199/EU on March 25th 2011, and high up on the list was:

    “The creation of a mechanism for a country to make an orderly withdrawal from the euro if it so chooses.”

    That bus was missed, but according to this yesterday:

    http://euobserver.com/economic/118358

    there’ll be another one along quite soon.

  40. Electro-Kevin
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    If the government takes notice of the Leveson petition will they take notice of a petition on leaving the EU ?

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      BBC news reports “Gerry McCann has started an online petition…” *Hint hint*

  41. Barbara
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    We have enough laws to take against the press already, the problem is they have been ignored. Even the police were doing their job correctly in the first place and had to be dragged into relooking at the evidence. The problem is lack of seriousness when problems arise. Editors should be made more responsible to what goes into their papers, and redress made available at the papers expense. We do need a new body to over see who breaks the rules, and the ablity to fine those that break the press code. Hitting them in the pocket is the best deterrant there is as money for the press is getting less and less.
    Its time owners, editors, and journalists of newspapers, were made more accountable, and those who break a new code of conduct should lose their jobs. No one should be beyond the law of the land. I still believe they can do it themselves with out legislation.

  42. forthurst
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    If Cameron is so keen on freedom of speech, when does he intend to repeal the draconian thoughtcrime laws introduced by successive Labour governments. I am not in favour of locking people up for expressing an opinion however unpalatable or offensive it might be to some people. Being given free reign only to express favourable opinons or to keep quiet, much as that is popular with certain people who are not in point of fact English and have a history of causing serious trouble in other peoples’ countries, is not what is meant by freedom of speech.

    • forthurst
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      The most problematic case is that of (issues running across EU b orders-ed). This is because the EU contains some very primitive countries where the administration of law is concerned. The quality of police work in which Occam’s razor is the first casualty and judges who like to acquaint themselves of the ‘facts’ from Wikipedia mean that controlling what can be reported here might mean that miscarriages of justice are more likely over there.

  43. Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Murdoch media has sapped the strength of the real Conservatives amidst the wet slime that calls itself Tory. Only The Daily Mail has told the truth; & they are dismissed as a mere wind-up by the sad who avoid facing the truth at all costs. Denial Über Alles! UKIP is the only alternative. Peter Hitchens should relocate to Rotherman & enjoy tea with the local council. His Laborite days will allow for depth of conversation. Meanwhile we Warsi Racists will continue to prepare for the day Traitors Gate swings again!

  44. Jon
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    There are good examples of regulation. The regulation of time. I’m sure Big Ben has played its part as do the atomic clocks of today. The timing chain on your car engine or the fuel to air management system.

    To take that success and then to think its a good idea to regulate what people create is a big jump. Regulation surrounds us in many good ways but its a recent thing to regulate the creativity of humans. Take Hugh Grant (and I do deplore the way so many have been treated) would acting be improved by a regulator. Rather than the actor creating a character from a script with guidance from the director there could be a regulator / bureaucrat to govern. Acting could be regulated to be the same with out variations imparted by the creative talent of the actor making it difficult to regulate.

    Influencing is fine and that can be done here. Its statutory regulation that is the issue. That statute can do nothing other than evolve over time as cases are presented to it.

    The argument against regulation, a favoured response of the press is not well voiced and known about. I feel there will be statutory regulation as a result.

  45. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Our two illiberal left wing parties – Labour and LibDem – may actually want a decline in the press so that television, which they can more easily control, increases its market share. Hopefully, internet news channels would evolve to thwart them.

    There are a couple of options for David Cameron:
    (1) There will be no government bill to introduce Statutory Regulation, but the government will provide parliamentary time for Nick Clegg and Ed Milliband to promote a LibLab bill. That way, if a bill reached the Statute book, the Conservatives would not be responsible for it.
    (2) Allow Statutory Regulation provided that the Regulatory Authority was comprised of the editorial board of Private Eye.

  46. uanime5
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    John do you suppose that these cases weren’t brought to court because certain papers were (allegedly)paying (words left out) police officers large amounts of money.

    Given how ineffective self-regulation has been it’s clear that the status quo is no longer sustainable. Only statutory regulation has the power to hold these tabloids to account by taking them to court for failing to adhere to basic standards.

    Reply: No police officer has been prosecuted for taking a bribe. It is a serious allegation, and has to be proven.

  47. Credible
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    John
    You don’t like big government or political interference, but you seem to support the change to politicians running the police.

    Reply: I support PCCs taking over from Police Committee which were always political.

    • Credible
      Posted December 1, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      What hypocracy. How can you possibly argue that some sort of regulation of the press will lead to political control and then claim elections for police comissioners along party political grounds won’t.

      You want PCCs because the police is a public sector organisation and hasn’t always done exactly what politicians like you want (you state ‘always political’ which means a bit too left for my liking). In contrast, the press is run by big business organisations (mostly by just two!) who are very cosy with the Conservative party and since they tend to share your views they shouldn’t be interfered with.
      In summary, the police has the wrong political views and needs to be changed, the press (mostly) have the right political views and therefore need no change.

      How very small state. Putin would be proud of your manipulations.

      Reply: Politicians have always set police budgets, appointed Chief Constables and given direction on police priorities. The Police have always been independent when it comes to choosing whicvh cases to pursue and how to puruse them. PCCs make no difference to this set up.

      • Credible
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        So in that case, why go to all the expense of making a change that very few want? You know fine well that politicians will now have more influence over the running of the police. Your comments are insidious and contradictory.

  48. Credible
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Lets have some honesty here. Whatever the pros or cons of regulating the press (I have mixed views), the only reason David Cameron is rejecting it (at present) is because he thinks it works to his political advantage in the long run to keep the press on his side.

  49. David Langley
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Lets have a completely free press. We need a body to appeal to that will take up our case and sue the publication concerned or report to the police under our existing laws. Its a question of finance. The public generally have none and the government have most of it. If we can get a cheap remedy for our problems then thats good. I believe the ungodly would always want to shut the mouths (or rather snap the pens) of the press up, see the expenses scandal etc.
    Of course we have the internet and foreign publications that sometimes seem to be reporting the truth rather than the facts slanted towards our own proprietors local political bias.
    I have been involved in the past with incidents that when reported on in newspapers over the next days bore no relation to what was really happening or happened on the ground. Since then I have taken a handful of salt when following newspapers versions. When the remedy can only be a pile of dough, that attracts the compensation flies, so we need some jail time for proprietors rather than cash for the offended.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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