Oversight sought for British press
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 10:04 p.m.
LONDON — Britain should set up an independent regulator to monitor its free-wheeling press and prevent media abuses such as the phone-hacking scandal that exposed unethical and sometimes illegal newsgathering practices, a senior judge said on Thursday after a yearlong investigation.
The new regulating body should be established by law but exclude politicians and editors to guarantee its independence from government and industry pressure, Lord Justice Brian Leveson said in a much-anticipated report that blasted the aggressive tactics often associated with British tabloids and paparazzi.
But Prime Minister David Cameron, who commissioned the judge's inquiry, shied away from the proposal, which put him at odds with phone-hacking victims, the political opposition and his own deputy. Cameron told Parliament that stronger oversight was badly needed but warned that enshrining it in law could be a dangerous first step toward state control of the media.
“We should, I believe, be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press,” Cameron said. “We should think very, very carefully before crossing this line.”
The proposal was the centerpiece of Leveson's 2,000-page report, a wide-ranging examination of media practices and ethics that was spawned by the phone-hacking scandal. The judge spent months hearing testimony from leading politicians, newspaper proprietors such as Rupert Murdoch and high-profile figures including actor Hugh Grant and author J.K. Rowling, who spoke bitterly of being hounded by reporters and photographers.
Leveson said he recognized the need for a vigorous press in a democratic society to hold the powerful to account and to bear witness. But irresponsible parts of the media had “wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people” through their intrusions on privacy and relentless pursuit of scoops.
He singled out the Murdoch-owned News of the World for particularly harsh criticism. Evidence has emerged of widespread criminal conduct at the now-defunct tabloid in the form of hacking into the voicemails of celebrities and others.
Revelations that the paper had even accessed the cellphone messages of a kidnapped 13-year-old girl, who was later found killed, caused a massive uproar last year. In response, Murdoch shut down the 168-year-old tabloid, shelved a bid to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB and was summoned to answer questions before Parliament.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Air force chief: Malaysia jet may have turned back
- Eastern European military officers say security, economic ties blunt Russia’s war threat in Ukraine
- Statue of Egypt pharoanic princess found in Luxor
- Missing Malaysia Airlines plane a terror target?
- Cuba allows phone access to some email
- Guardsmen in Caracas block food-shortage protest march
- Egypt decrees protection for election commission
- Syrian military seizes rebel town near Lebanon border
- In North Korea, voting’s really a breeze: You must vote and you get 1 candidate
- $29M from Marcos’ Swiss bank accounts secured
- Syria breeds crop of jihadis