Leveson Report On UK Media Released

Lord Justice Leveson’s report into the “culture, practices and ethics of the press” has been released in London.

Leveson

Leveson read a prepared statement about his report and said he would take no questions nor make any future public statements. “The ball is now back in the politicians’ court,” he said. “They must now decide who guards the guardians”.

The Executive Summary of Leveson’s report is shown below. All four volumes of the report can be downloaded here:

Extracts from Lord Leveson’s statement.

For over 40 years, as a barrister and judge I have watched the press in action. I know how vital the press is – all of it – as guardian of the interests of the public, as a critical witness of events, as a standard bearer for those who have no one else to speak up to them. Nothing has changed that view. The press operating freely is one of the true safeguards of our democracy. As a result it holds a privileged and powerful place in our society.

But this power and influence carries with it responsibility to the public interest in whose name it exercises these privileges. Unfortunately as the evidence has shown beyond doubt, on too many occasions those responsible along with the editors code of conduct – which the press wrote and promoted – have simply been ignored. This had damaged the public interest, caused real hardship and on occasion wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent people. What the press do and say is no ordinary exercise of free speech; it operates very differently to blogs on the internet and other social media such as Twitter. Its impact is uniquely powerful.

A free press in a democracy holds power to account but, with a few honourable exceptions, the UK press has not performed that vital role in the case of its own power. None of this however is to conclude that press freedom in Britain, hard won over 300 years ago, should be jeopardised. On the contrary – it should not. I remain firmly believe that press, all of it, serves the public very well well most of the time. The are truly countless examples of great journalism, great investigations and great campaigns. Not that it is necessary for the press to be pursuing serious stories for it to be acting in the public interest. Some its most important functions are to inform, educate and entertain, and when doing so to be irreverent, unruly and opinionated. But none of that means that the press is beyond challenge. I know of no organised profession, industry or trade in which the serious failings of the few are overlooked because of the good done by the many. In any other case the press would be the first to expose such practices.

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