Judge has 'no hidden agenda' to stifle press


Lord Justice Leveson has vowed not to be pushed off course by attempts to portray questions about the conduct of the press as an attack on free speech. The judge, who is leading the inquiry into media standards, insisted he had no “hidden agenda” to stifle reporting as he explained why he raised concerns with Downing Street that his investigation could be undermined.

He spoke out in response to a newspaper report that he had threatened to quit over remarks by cabinet minister Michael Gove that the inquiry was having a “chilling effect” on journalism.

In a 20-minute statement at the opening of proceedings, he did not address directly whether or not he had put his position on the line over the issue or sought to “gag” the education secretary.

But he confirmed he contacted cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood to discuss whether the remark – and its apparent backing by David Cameron – represented a “settled view” within the government against regulation. He said such a development “would clearly have raised questions about the value of the work that the inquiry was undertaking at substantial cost”. – (PA)