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Keywords:

  • Leveson;
  • newspapers;
  • press regulation;
  • phone-hacking;
  • Parliament;
  • Royal Charter

As a result of the phone-hacking scandal and evidence of other serious journalistic abuses by some newspapers, the government set up the Leveson Inquiry to hear evidence from victims and to make recommendations for a new and effective system of press regulation. Leveson's recommendations for independent self-regulation overseen by a “recogniser” was seen as a moderate solution which would uphold the principle of an unfettered press while providing appropriate protection from unscrupulous or unethical press behaviour. After historic cross-party agreement, Parliament passed a resolution accepting a Royal Charter which adopted the great majority of his recommendations. In response, Britain's main national newspapers have pursued a campaign of systematic misinformation and distortion, aimed at discrediting the inquiry, its supporters and the cross-party Charter, while promoting a different system which would remain almost wholly controlled by the industry and would in practice be little different from the discredited Press Complaints Commission. After decades of ineffectual political response to press abuse and press power, there is now a historic opportunity for Parliament to assert its sovereign power. Over the next 12–18 months, we will see whether we have reached a genuine milestone in British public life or whether the British press will remain the last bastion of unaccountable power.