Leveson one year on: what future for press freedom?

Sunday 20 October, 12.15pm until 1.15pm, Cinema 1 Lunchtime Debates

It is a year since Lord Justice Leveson published his inquiry into the ‘Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press,’ but decisions about future press regulation are still far from being resolved. Attempts by Labour peers to include Leveson-type reforms in the recent defamation bill have failed, and the prime minister’s cunning plan to avoid state regulation of the press through a Royal Charter have floundered, as no publishers have agreed to sign up to the proposed regulator. Leveson and his team have been beset by scandals, and rumours that the future of press regulation was decided over pizza in the early hours by politicians and three members of the pro-regulation Hacked Off lobby group, but without a single member of the press present have marred the government’s approach. Even the ongoing support from celebs such as Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan has done little to keep it in favour. As the press formulate an alternative, what’s now been dubbed the ‘pizza charter’ seems doomed to failure.

Is the Leveson report now - as is widely reported in the press – discredited, or is all the muckraking and conspiracy theorising by the press a conscious attempt by the ‘feral’ press to dodge his proposals? With the public apparently supporting the implementation of Leveson –around two-thirds are in favour according to recent polls - how can it be in the public interest to have an unregulated press? Does the Royal Charter proposal does represent any sort of positive alternative to statute-backed regulation, or could the implications for free speech be even worse? Finally, with the so-called ‘blue-chip’ hackers - law firms and insurers – now under the spotlight, were offences by the press as grievous and isolated as was first made out?

Professor George Brock
head of journalism, City University London; author, Out of Print: newspapers, journalism and the business of news in the Digital Age

Professor Roger Graef
CEO, Films of Record; award-winning filmmaker, including the Bafta winning Police series, Police 2001, Turning the Screws, and The Secret Policeman's Ball; visiting professor, Mannheim Centre for Criminology, LSE

Patrick Hayes
director, British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA)

Professor Tim Luckhurst
head, Centre for Journalism, University of Kent; author, Responsibility without Power: Lord Justice Leveson's constitutional dilemma

Viv Regan
managing editor, spiked

Produced by
Patrick Hayes director, British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA)
Recommended readings
For the Public Benefit: Why Everyone Should Back the Royal Charter on Press Self-Regulation

The Charter settlement offers a historic opportunity to put behind us widespread misconduct of the kinds identified in the Leveson Report and so to rebuild trust between the press and the public. It does this without in any way reducing the freedom of the press to carry out journalism that is in the public interest.

Brian Cathcart, International Forum for Responsible Media blog, 15 October 2013


The ethics of journalism shouldn’t be dictated by the police, judges - or the Guardian.

Mick Hume, spiked, 4 September 2013

Out of Print: newspapers, journalism and the business of news in the Digital Age

News and journalism are in the midst of upheaval. How does news publishing change when a newspaper sells as little as 300,000 copies but its website attracts 31 million visitors? These shifts are forcing assumptions and practices to be rethought from first principles. Out of Print examines the past, present and future for a fragile industry battling a 'perfect storm' of falling circulations, reduced advertising revenue, rising print costs and the impact of 'citizen journalists' and free news aggregators.

George Brock, Kogan Page, 3 September 2013

The press denied readers the facts over Leveson

Was ours

Martin Moore, New Statesman, 19 May 2013

Giving free speech a hammering

It’s time to lift the wig on all the libertarian posturing: judge-sanctioned free speech is not free at all.

Patrick Hayes, spiked, 5 February 2013

Leveson's purpose is to give ordinary victims fair redress against the media

Beyond the celebrities and politicians, there are ordinary people who often find themselves in the glare of the media through no fault of their own.

Martin Moore, New Statesman, 30 November 2012

Why I, as a journalist and ex-editor, believe it is time to regulate the press

The Leveson report is a much-needed opportunity for newspapers to abandon the excesses of the past

Will Hutton, Observer, 25 November 2012

Responsibility without Power : Lord Justice Leveson’s constitutional dilemma

As Britain awaits recommendations from the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press, newspapers anticipate a moment that will define for the future the appropriate relationship between free speech and accountable government.

Tim Luckhurst, Free Speech Network, 2012

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