British press get scathing report on phone-hacking sins
November 29th, 2012
03:03 PM ET

British press get scathing report on phone-hacking sins

Editor's note: In a long-awaited report sparked by a phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid, a British judge Brian Leveson recommended Thursday that the British press should have an independent regulator, underpinned by law, and with the power to fine.

Below is information from the report and reaction:

[Updated at 3:03 a.m. ET, 8:03 p.m. GMT] News International, a subsidiary of the Murdoch-owned News Corp., has backed British Prime Minister David Cameron's call for regulation without legislation:

"We are grateful to Lord Justice Leveson for his thorough and comprehensive inquiry, and will be studying its recommendations and comments in detail. As a company we are keen to play our full part, with others in our industry, in creating a new body that commands the confidence of the public. We believe that this can be achieved without statutory regulation - and welcome the Prime Minister’s rejection of that proposal. We accept that a new system should be independent, have a standards code, a means of resolving disputes, the power to demand prominent apologies and the ability to levy heavy fines. We have spent 18 months reflecting upon these issues and are determined now to move on as soon as possible with others in our sector to set up a new body that will ensure British journalism is both responsible and robust”.

[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET, 4:43 p.m. GMT] The Hacked Off campaign, which represents what it says are victims of press abuse, has issued a statement saying Leveson's recommendations need to be implemented:

"What is needed is a regulator which can properly and effectively protect the victims of press misconduct. (Leveson) has recommended that this be backed by legislation to protect the public and the press.

"These proposals are reasonable and proportionate and we call on all parties to get together to implement them as soon as possible.

"The press must be given a deadline. The Inquiry is over. Now is the time for action."

[Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET, 4:30 p.m. GMT] More from Labour Party leader Ed Miliband:

"A free press is essential to a functioning democracy. The press must be able to hold the powerful - especially us politicians - to account without fear or favor. ...

"But at the same time, I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the ... Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for sake of profit, and where powerful interests in the press know they won't be held to account ..."

The Dowler family was at the center of a phone-hacking scandal that triggered the Leveson inquiry. In 2002, the voice mail of a missing 13-year-old girl, Milly Dowler, had been hacked by an investigator working for the News of the World newspaper before she was found murdered.

[Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET, 4:14 p.m. GMT] Labour Party leader Ed Miliband says that he'll seek to convince British Prime Minister David Cameron and the House of Commmons that "we should put our faith in the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson."

Miliband was reacting to Cameron's concerns. Cameron had said he backed Leveson's call for a new independent regulator for the press, but was wary about writing legislation to implement it.

"I'm sorry that the prime minister is not yet there," Miliband said in the House of Commons, "but I hope to convince him over the days ahead."

[Updated at 11:04  a.m. ET, 4:04 p.m. GMT] Here's more on British Prime Minister David Cameron's reservations on Leveson's recommendation that legislation be passed to form the new, independent press regulator:

"I have some serious concerns and misgivings on this recommendation. They break down into issues of principle, practicality and necessity. The issue of principle is that for the first time, we would have crossed the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land. We should, I believe, be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press."

[Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET, 3:30 p.m. GMT] British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking in the House of Commons, says he backs a judge's call for a new independent regulator for the press and that it should be put in place rapidly.

But Cameron said he had serious concerns about Leveson's recommendation that new legislation be passed to form the regulatory body. Other options should be explored first, Cameron said.

Leveson said he was not recommending that Parliament set up a press regulator, but rather that the industry set up its own regulator, backed by legislation to make sure it meets certain standards.

[Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET, 2:50 p.m. GMT] A central recommendation from Leveson is that there should be an independent regulator with the power to fine the media. But he adds that the regulator should be set up by media organizations, not the British Parliament.

Here's our latest full story that explains more about the Leveson report, the evidence and the recommendations for the British media industry.

[Updated at 9:40 a.m. ET, 2:40 p.m. GMT] Obviously this is being closely watched by British journalists and media companies. A look at how they're covering it right now is interesting.

The Sun, sister newspaper to the now-defunct News of the World that was at the center of the original phone-hacking allegations, has the story on its web homepage but it's below these headlines: "Pills made me gay sex addict; Darts ace: I'm a celeb writty... and Messi v. Ron (and Iniesta!)

But it's the top story on The Guardian (Leveson report calls for new press law); The Telegraph (Leveson attacks 'outrageous' press behavior) and The Times (Latest: Leveson – laws must regulate press). The Times, like The Sun, is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International.

[Updated at 9:18 a.m. ET, 2:18 p.m. GMT] British Prime Minister David Cameron says he'll give his reaction in the next hour.


[Updated at 9:14 a.m. ET, 2:14 p.m. GMT] Turns out this 2,000 page report is being delivered in four volumes.

And here they all are:


 [Updated at 8:55 a.m. ET, 1:55 p.m. GMT]

 There's definitely some damning material in this report.

"The evidence placed before the Inquiry has demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that there have been far too many occasions over the last decade and more (itself said to have been better than previous decades) when these responsibilities, on which the public so heavily rely, have simply been ignored. There have been too many times when, chasing the story, parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote, simply did not exist. This has caused real hardship and, on occasion, wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and liberties have been disdained. This is not just the famous but ordinary members of the public, caught up in events (many of them, truly tragic) far larger than they could cope with but made much, much worse by press behaviour that, at times, can only be described as outrageous," Leveson writes.

To catch you up, this is the British inquiry sparked by allegations of phone-hacking at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid newspaper that has since shut down. But many more people and papers were also questioned about their practices, which included the hacking and allegations that police officers were too cozy with newspaper journalists.

[Updated at 8:52 a.m. ET, 1:52 p.m. GMT] We're listening to Leveson and going through his report now. Here's the executive summary from Leveson's report.

[Updated at 8:45 a.m. ET, 1:45 p.m. GMT] The British press should have an independent regulator, underpinned by law, and with the power to fine, Judge Brian Leveson recommended in a long-awaited report sparked by a phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid.

[Posted at 8:43 a.m. ET, 1:43 p.m. GMT] British journalists are getting their first look at what seems to be a scathing report about practices used by the newspaper industry that included hacking into voicemail accounts of celebrities, politicians and murder victims and their families.

We'll bring you information from the report by Judge Brian Leveson and reaction.

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Filed under: Media • United Kingdom
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. American

    Piers Morgan ], that British liberal hack for Obama and the Dems should be put on trail as well for his role in all of this!

    November 29, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • JohnS

      I hadn't heard that that Morgan was involved in phone hacking – – what facts can you share?

      November 29, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. West Papua

    Benny Wenda is Legal to be The President For West Papua.
    Because the illegal indonesia is just a name for islands Not a country.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Martin Young

    To the U.K.
    We seem to be getting more and more gentrified criminals from the U.K. Thank God we get your musicians and artists to balance it out. Good show on actually putting civility or lack of it on trial.I have enjoyed the openness of your court. We could use a bit more openness in the U.S.A. Ct. U.S.A

    November 29, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lance Chambers

    I see little value in having a regulatory body managed and run by the media industry. This is, very obviously, self regulation which has failed so many times in the past.

    It is a nonsense to allow a group to self-regulate when profits are at stake. There is little incentive for them to insist on stopping any practice that brings in money UNLESS there is the force of law behind any regulation with fines, imprisonment, forced closure, public humiliation (which was really all that forced the closure of News of the World), etc.

    I agree with a free press but not an untruthful, abusive or virulent one.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |