Leveson sparks varied reaction
Former Labour deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, who won a payout over phone hacking by the News of the World, welcomed, as “a victim of our free press”, the inquiry’s “excellent” findings.
He said the report accepted the recommendations he had made to Lord Leveson’s inquiry but questioned if the findings would go the way of previous reports on reform of the press.
“Are you prepared to consider in the legislation that will come before this House a sunset clause that makes it clear, if they fail to carry out their promises, we have the authority in that Bill, to carry out a statutory framework?” he demanded.
Lord Strathclyde said Lord Prescott was right to say that Lord Justice Leveson had “comprehensively exposed a failure in the PCC which can no longer continue”.
Tory former lord chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern said there was a “unique opportunity” to go ahead with an “extremely well thought-out system for giving the press the right of self-regulation, which is seen to work in the public interest”.
He said: “I would have thought the sooner we can get all-party consent for this ... the principles and the essentials of the legislation can surely be put in place very quickly.
“We owe it to people to do this as quickly as possible to prevent this kind of thing happening again.”
Lord Strathclyde said there was now an opportunity for politicians to work together on a cross-party basis to “bring about some extremely good results as quickly and effectively as possible”.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, warned that detailed statutory underpinning of regulation could be dangerous.
He told Sky News: “What you can’t have is too much detail in any kind of statutory underpinning, that’s where the danger lies.
“Most politicians, once you give them a little nose into something, will try to find a very much wider thing down the line.
“We might have benign politicians now, but 10 years’ time? That’s the problem.”
Labour MP Chris Bryant, who was a victim of phone hacking, said: “The biggest condemnation in this document is of politics over the last 30 years, because Lord Leveson said we have all failed and sometimes we failed to act because we were too frightened about what would be written in newspapers about us personally or about our party politics.”