Update 2 ~ The Royal Charter on Self Regulation of the Press
Update 3 ~ Reaction in the media - exemplary damages
Update 4 ~ Amending Royal Charters
Update 5 ~ Bloggers Update 6 ~ Further comment
Update 7 ~ Scotland and the Royal Charter
In November 2012, Lord Justice Leveson published his report - (his principal recommendations are summarised here). Leveson LJ said:
The goal must be a genuinely independent and effective self regulatory system. I have therefore set out, and recommend a model for independent self regulation that I am confident would protect both the freedom of the press and freedom of speech along with the rights and interests of individuals; it should therefore command public confidence."
Dominic Sandbrook, writing in the Daily Mail 17th March, presents a powerful argument against media regulation - For centuries men and women fought and died for freedom of expression. Who are Miliband and Clegg to throw it away? Sandbrook argues that many matters of enormous public concern would not have received publicity if media regulation had been in place - e.g. The Daily Mail naming those it considered guilty of the Stephen Lawrence murder, the expenses scandal in Parliament, revelations about corrupt police officer Dizaei, Huhne's speeding points etc.
It seems true
to say that the argument against media regulation is now lost. More is the pity! However, the precise detail of the regulation remains to be seen. At the time of writing, it appears that there might even be a Royal Charter PLUS legislation - see The Guardian - Press Regulation deal: the key points. Lord Justice Leveson's proposal was for statutory underpinning of the regulator. The matter is to be debated in the House of Commons. It will be interesting to see just how many elected members oppose regulation.
The Guardian 18th March - Press regulation deal hailed by Labour after last-ditch talks
The Telegraph 18th March - Leveson deal reached on press regulation, claims Labour - David Cameron has agreed to create a new press regulator set up under a Royal Charter and "a bit of statute", Labour said today.
Who is to guard the guardians? 29th November 2012
Guarding the guardians - the Leveson report and the Rubicon - 3rd December 2012
Press regulation ~ the Labour Part's draft bill - a new role for the high Court? 11th December 2012
Letters Patent ~ Royal Charters ~ Press Regulation. 13th February 2013
Update 1 ~ Other links etc
To understand how far we've sunk already, try imagining hearing the following headline from the US: "The White House and Congressional leaders have announced that they are close to agreeing a deal on press regulation." This simply would not happen; it would not compute with most Americans; they would find it baffling, and not remotely a question of Left or Right. For a Democrat or a Republican, it would come down to free expression.
Richard Edwards - Bristol - Leveson's legacy: the licensing of blogs and twitter? Of course, bloggers were not the culprits behind the phone hacking and other press wrong-doing that led to Leveson. Indeed, Leveson failed to properly discuss electronic media. But this has not prevented our politicians from seizing the opportunity to regulate blogging with regulatory changes that are more at home in Beijing than Britain.
Update 2 - Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press
The DRAFT text of the charter has been published
Update 3 - Reaction in the media - Exemplary damages:
The Independent 19th March - Politicians agree deal on post-Leveson Royal Charter for press regulation .... refuse to sign up
The Telegraph 19th March - David Cameron's Leveson deal is 'threat to press freedom', says human rights watchdog
The Guardian 19th March - Press regulation: newspapers bridle at 'historic' deal - there is particular concern over the question of 'exemplary' damages. Amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill are aimed at granting a power to award these damages - see Bill amendments.
This is a draconian provision in a fee society and is likely to be a powerful deterrent to the publication of anything which might be seen, at the time of the publication, as running any risk of the exemplary damages provision being applied. These provisions will heavily engage the European Convention on Human Rights (Art 10|) and they are intended to be a remedy for use only where other remedies are inadequate but it will be a brave newspaper which opts to be the first to test these provisions in the courts. For example, what does 'outrageous nature' mean? - when should a court punish the defendant? etc.
Further article - Hugh Tomlinson QC - Hacking, blagging, bribing? The press after Leveson
Update 4 - Amending Royal Charters
An amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has been put forward by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara. The amendment may be seen in the Fifth Marshalled list of amendments. It states:
Update 5 ~ Bloggers:
In a further article, The Guardian looks at whether bloggers will be affected by the regime - Bloggers may face libel fines under press regulation deal
Update 6 ~ Further comment
The Guardian 19th March - Press regulation: a victory for the rich, the celebrated and the powerful
The Guardian 20th March - Press regulation approval to go ahead under multiple proposals
Inforrm's Blog - Gill Phillips - Briefing note on exemplary damages and costs
Update 7 ~ Scotland and the Royal Charter
A further very interesting angle is discussed by I. Jamieson, 'The Leveson Report, the Royal Charter and the Scottish Parliament' UK Const. L. Blog (20th March 2013). The same blog has also published a 'reply' to Jamieson - see Aileen McHarg: The Leveson Report, the Royal Charter and the Scottish Parliament: A Reply to Jamieson