23 March 2018
Tuesday 24 July saw the closing of evidence in the Leveson Inquiry with counsel for the media and for the victims of the media, giving their closing speeches to Lord Justice Leveson. Those who have been glued to the Inquiry day after day watching the ‘bloodhound and watchdog of society' face the high jump will have to find something else to do with their time. Luckily, the Olympics is just about to start.David Sherborne, barrister to the stars – and others who have been bitten by the feral beast — appealed for a new regime to regulate the press. He told the inquiry, ‘We are not here to focus on the good journalists. We don't need an inquiry for them. We are here to consider the bad ones' concluding perhaps in a direct appeal to David Cameron, that someone had to take a ‘very firm grip' on the tabloid press (See The Telegraph). And that firm grip should not in his view, include yet another round of drinks at the last chance saloon of self regulation. The Guardian — the newspaper whose investigations into phone hacking set the ball rolling in the first place — reports him as asking for an entirely new regime: ‘A body of independent adjudicators should rule upon complaints as to media conduct and serving editors should have no role in that' (See The Guardian). No doubt the media in general would far prefer to keep getting the drinks in a self-regulatiry club in which they make the rules. But given the exposure of the rumbustious behaviour of some of the members, it is unlikely that when he does make his proposals later on in the year, that Lord Justice Leveson will allow the media an open house. The Inquiry chairman has a lot to mull over during the summer break, following eight months of evidence and given that his proposals will potentially have a significant impact on the future of regulation of today's media. No doubt sensing the import of the occasion, Lord Justice Leveson squared his shoulders, set his jaw and — refusing to do a Gwyneth Paltrow — issued a series of Oscar-like thanks to all those who had participated in the Inquiry. Including a ‘_thank you to all those who worked invisibly under the surface_'. Given the reasons at the very root of the Inquiry — under cover investigations and privacy invading phone hacking — some irony there, surely!