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Leveson Inquiry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Logo of the Leveson Inquiry

The Leveson Inquiry was a judicial public inquiry into the culture, practices, and ethics of the British press following the News International phone hacking scandal, chaired by Lord Justice Leveson, who was appointed in July 2011. A series of public hearings were held throughout 2011 and 2012. The Inquiry published the Leveson Report in November 2012, which reviewed the general culture and ethics of the British media, and made recommendations for a new, independent body to replace the existing Press Complaints Commission, which would have to be recognised by the state through new laws. Prime Minister David Cameron, under whose direction the inquiry had been established, said that he welcomed many of the findings, but declined to enact the requisite legislation. Part 2 of the inquiry was to be delayed until after criminal prosecutions regarding events at the News of the World,[1][2] but the Conservative Party's 2017 manifesto stated that the second part of the inquiry would be dropped entirely,[3] and this was confirmed by Culture Secretary Matt Hancock in a statement to the House of Commons on 1 March 2018.[4]

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In 2007, News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were convicted of illegal interception of phone messages. According to the News of the World, this was an isolated incident, but The Guardian claimed that evidence existed that this practice extended beyond Goodman and Mulcaire. In 2011, after a civil settlement with Sienna Miller, the Metropolitan Police Service set up a new investigation, Operation Weeting. In July 2011, it was revealed that News of the World reporters had hacked the voicemail of murder victim Milly Dowler. Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 would be chaired by Lord Justice Leveson on 13 July 2011.[2][5]

A 14 September 2011 press release[6] stated that Part 1 of the Leveson Inquiry would be addressing:

"the culture, practices and ethics of the press, including contacts between the press and politicians and the press and the police; it is to consider the extent to which the current regulatory regime has failed and whether there has been a failure to act upon any previous warnings about media misconduct."

and Part 2:

"the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International, other media organisations or other organisations. It will also consider the extent to which any relevant police force investigated allegations relating to News International, and whether the police received corrupt payments or were otherwise complicit in misconduct."

Part 2 would have been addressed later because of ongoing investigations by law enforcement organisations in Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta. By 2015, it had been shelved.[7]


On 20 July 2011, Cameron announced in a speech to Parliament the final terms of reference of Leveson's inquiry, stating that it would extend beyond newspapers to include broadcasters and social media. He also announced a panel of six people who have been working with the judge on the inquiry:[8][9]

The Inquiry was funded through two Government departments: the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office.[10]

Core participants were designated by Leveson as being: News International, the Metropolitan Police, victims, Northern and Shell Network Ltd, Guardian News and Media Ltd, Associated Newspapers Ltd, Trinity Mirror, Telegraph Media Group, and the National Union of Journalists. In January 2012 Surrey Police were added to the list of core participants.[11]

A 14 September 2011 press release[6] also named 46 politicians, sportsmen, other public figures, and members of the public who may have been victims of media intrusion and who have been granted "core participant" status in the inquiry.[12] As of November 2011 this number had increased to 51.[13][14]

It was reported in the media that Leveson had attended two parties in the prior 12 months at the London home of Matthew Freud, son-in-law of Rupert Murdoch and head of Freud Communications PR firm.[15][16] According to The Independent, Freud had "agreed to do some free consultancy work for the Sentencing Council."[17] The revelations led to a number of Labour MPs calling for Leveson to be removed from the Inquiry.[18] These were two large evening events attended in Leveson's capacity as Chairman of the Sentencing Council, and with the knowledge of the Lord Chief Justice.[19]


Oral evidence was taken at the Royal Courts of Justice, and was streamed live over the Internet. Over three modules, 337 witnesses were called and about 300 other statements made.

Hearings for the first module took place from November 2011 to February 2012, and considered the relationship between the press and the public. This module included testimony from Sally Dowler (mother of Milly Dowler), Kate and Gerry McCann (parents of the missing Madeleine McCann), and Chris Jefferies who was wrongly arrested for the murder of Joanna Yeates in 2011. The inquiry heard joint testimony from Anna van Heeswijk (Object), Jacqui Hunt (Equality Now), Heather Harvey (Eaves) and Marai Larasi (End Violence against Women) as well as the singer Charlotte Church regarding the image of women in tabloid journalism. It also included the actors Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, the author J. K. Rowling, and figures from journalism and broadcasting: Jeremy Paxman, Nick Davies, Paul McMullan, Alastair Campbell, Piers Morgan, Kelvin MacKenzie, Richard Desmond, Ian Hislop, James Harding, Alan Rusbridger, Mark Thompson, Lord Patten, Michael Grade, Lord Hunt and Paul Dacre.

The next module (February and March) examined the relationship between the press and police, and saw testimony from political and police figures, including Brian Paddick, Lord Prescott, Simon Hughes, John Yates, Andy Hayman, Sir Paul Stephenson, Elizabeth Filkin, Lord Condon, Lord Stevens, Lord Blair and Cressida Dick.

The final module (April to June), on the relationship between press and politicians, saw testimony from a variety of senior politicians, including four Prime Ministers, along with press figures such as Aidan Barclay, Evgeny Lebedev, James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch, Viscount Rothermere, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks.



The 2,000-page final report was published on 29 November 2012, along with a 48-page executive summary. Leveson found that the existing Press Complaints Commission was not sufficient, and recommended a new independent body, which would have a range of sanctions available to it, including fines and direction of the prominence of apologies and corrections.

Membership of the body would be voluntary, but incentivised by schemes such as a kitemark, an inquisitorial arbitration service for handling tort claims such as libel and breach of privacy, and by allowing exemplary damages to be awarded in cases brought against non-participants in the scheme, something not usually part of English law. Leveson rejected the characterisation of his proposal as "statutory regulation of the press".

Leveson also made recommendations regarding the Data Protection Act, the powers and duties of the Information Commissioner, and about conduct of relations between the press, the police, and politicians. He praised the satirical magazine Private Eye for previously having refused to join the Press Complaints Commission, saying it was an 'understandable consequence' of the perceived closeness between the Commission and 'those so often held to account by that publication'.[20][better source needed]


Shortly after the publication of the report, David Cameron made a statement to the House of Commons. Cameron welcomed many of Leveson's findings, but expressed "serious concerns and misgivings" regarding the prospect of implementing the changes with legislation. Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, called for full implementation of the report. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, and leader of the Liberal Democrats was unable to agree on a position with his coalition partner Cameron, instead making his own statement agreeing that changes in the law were necessary.[21]

In leading newspaper stories the following day, the Financial Times,[22] the Daily Telegraph,[23] The Independent,[24] The Times,[25] the Daily Express,[26] and the Daily Mirror[27] broadly agreed with Cameron's position, while The Guardian declared that Miliband has taken a "principled position", but that "great care" would be required for the legislation. It stated that "[Cameron] who commissioned it and who has had very little time in which to study it, should think carefully before dismissing significant parts of it." It added, "The press should treat it with respect – and not a little humility."[28]

Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, which had never signed up to the PCC, said he was in concurrence with a lot of Leveson's findings and the handling of the inquiry. However, he disagreed with suggestions that those publications which did not voluntarily join up to the proposed self-regulatory body should be penalised by paying heavy costs and exemplary damages on potential libel actions, even if they won the case.[29][30] The leader of the National Union of Journalists, Michelle Stanistreet, hailed Leveson's backing of a contractual "conscience clause".[31]

Victims group Hacked Off called for full implementation of Leveson's recommendations, starting a petition which was signed by over 145,000 people (as of 10 December 2012). Gerry McCann said that Cameron had earlier made a pledge that he would implement the report if it was not "bonkers".[32][33] J.K. Rowling, who gave evidence to the inquiry, wrote that she did this in good faith and felt "duped and angry" by the Prime Minister's response, and victims refused to meet the Culture Secretary, speaking of a sense of "betrayal".[34]

Talks regarding implementation between politicians and the press were scheduled to start in December 2012, and Lord Hunt, the current chair of the PCC,[needs update] said the new regulator should be set up by summer 2013.[35] Addressing a conference in Sydney on privacy and the internet, Lord Justice Leveson stated he was watching developments in the UK "with interest", but declined to comment further. He said: "It is because I treat the report as a judgment and judges simply do not enter into discussion about judgments they have given. They do not respond to comment, however misconceived; neither do they seek to correct error."[36]

A small issue which received some minor press attention, was an incident where the Leveson report incorrectly listed a "Brett Straub" as one of the founders of The Independent newspaper. The name originated from Wikipedia vandalism by one of Straub's friends as a prank, who in several erroneous edits falsely included Straub's name in several articles across the site.[37][38]

Associated Newspapers Ltd challenged a ruling on the admissibility of anonymous evidence by inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson.[39] The presiding judges refused the application for judicial review on the grounds that individual anonymity requests should be dealt with by the chairman of the inquiry rather than the judiciary.[40]

Maria Miller expenses row

On 12 December 2012, it was reported that during a telephone call to The Daily Telegraph Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman, Craig Oliver, had warned the newspaper against running a critical story on MP's expenses claimed by Culture Secretary Maria Miller because of her role in enacting proposals in the Leveson report. Downing Street denied that any threats were made.[41][42][43] The Telegraph had reported that Miller had claimed £90,000 of expenses between 2005 and 2009 for a house in which her parents were living. Miller herself claimed they were dependents.[44] The Parliamentary Commission for Standards subsequently launched an investigation into Miller's expenses.[45] Writing in The Guardian on 15 December, the journalist Tanya Gold argued the episode demonstrated the need for a free press.[46]


According to page 388 of the Government Response to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Inquiries Act 2005 published in 2013,[47] the total cost of the Leveson Inquiry was £5.4 million.

See also


  1. ^ Brian Leveson (November 2012). An Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press (Volume 1) (PDF).
  2. ^ a b "Phone hacking: David Cameron announces terms of phone-hacking inquiry". The Daily Telegraph. London. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  3. ^ Stewart, Heather; Mason, Rowena (18 May 2017). "May signals break with Thatcherism in manifesto for 'country and community'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Leveson Inquiry: Matt Hancock axes proposed second stage". BBC News. 1 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Missing Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked by News of the World". The Guardian. 5 July 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Ruling on Core Participants" (PDF) (Press release). The Leveson Inquiry. 14 September 2011. Archived from the original on 11 November 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011.{{cite press release}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ Ponsford, Dominic (16 December 2015). "Part two of the Leveson Inquiry has been 'quietly shelved' by Government". Press Gazette. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  8. ^ Lisa O'Carroll (20 July 2011). "Phone-hacking inquiry extended to include broadcasters and social media". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  9. ^ Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Commons. 20 July 2011. col. 918–921.
  10. ^ "The Leveson Inquiry:FAQs". The Leveson INquiry. The Leveson Inquiry. Archived from the original on 16 January 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ "Core Participants". Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa (14 September 2011). "Leveson phone-hacking inquiry: JK Rowling among 'core participants'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  13. ^ "List of victims". Core participants. Leveson Inquiry. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  14. ^ "Hacking inquiry: Core participant status for dozens". BBC. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  15. ^ Hope, Christopher (22 July 2011). "Phone hacking inquiry judge attended parties at home of Rupert Murdoch's son-in-law". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  16. ^ "MP calls for police to investigate Murdoch son over crucial email". London Evening Standard. London. 22 July 2011. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  17. ^ "Lord Justice Leveson: Grand inquisitor of the press". Independent. 30 July 2011. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  18. ^ Merrick, Jane; Owen, Jonathan; Brady, Brian; Hickman, Martin (24 July 2011). "Miliband mulls MPs' demands to remove hacking-inquiry judge". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  19. ^ "Leveson Statement" (PDF). Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ "Private Eye comment". Private Eye (1329 p. 5). 14 December 2012.
  21. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 29 Nov 2012 (pt 0003)". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  22. ^ "Leveson's lessons for Fleet Street". Financial Times. 30 November 2012.
  23. ^ "Let us implement Leveson, without a press law". The Daily Telegraph. No. 48, 991. 30 November 2012. p. 29. Lord Justice Leveson states: "By far the best option would be for all publishers to choose to sign up to a satisfactory self-regulatory regime and, in order to persuade them to do so, certain incentives are required." This is indeed the best option. The industry must act quickly to set up an independent regulatory body that fulfils the principles put forward by Leveson.
  24. ^ "There is only one flaw in this epic verdict – but it's a crucial flaw". The Independent. 30 November 2012. p. 26. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022. Legislation was favoured by a broad swathe of senior MPs and, with caveats, by Mr Cameron's Coalition partner, Nick Clegg. This places the onus on the press to devise a system of independent regulation that commands the confidence both of MPs and of the public
  25. ^ "The Leveson Report". The Times. No. 70, 704. 30 November 2012. p. 2.
  26. ^ "Freedom of the press must be used for good". Daily Express. 30 November 2012. p. 18. the Daily Express has not the slightest hesitation in agreeing with Lord Leveson that the price of press freedom should not be paid "by those who suffer, unfairly and egregiously, at the hands of the press and have no sufficient mechanism for obtaining redress". But where the judge enters very dangerous territory indeed is in his recommendation that a law should be passed by politicians to control the nature of this self-regulation.
  27. ^ "No turning back if we cross line". Daily Mirror. 30 November 2012. p. 8.
  28. ^ "Lord Justice Leveson throws the ball back". The Guardian. 30 November 2012. p. 48.
  29. ^ Editorial (14–23 December 2012). "Lord Justice Leveson's report" (1329). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  30. ^ Ian Hislop (30 November 2012). "Why should I answer to David Cameron? Leveson said much that was sensible – and much that wasn't". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022.
  31. ^ Michelle Stanistreet (30 November 2012). "A victory for journalists of conscience". The Morning Standard.
  32. ^ "Leveson: 60,000 Sign Hacked Off Petition". Sky News. 1 December 2012.
  33. ^ "Gerry McCann calls on MPs to redeem themselves by reforming press". The Independent. 1 December 2012. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022.
  34. ^ "JK Rowling: I feel duped and angry at David Cameron's reaction to Leveson". The Guardian. 30 November 2012.
  35. ^ "Leveson: Lord Hunt calls for press regulator within months". BBC News. 1 December 2012.
  36. ^ "Leveson watches UK developments 'with interest' from Australia". The Guardian. 7 December 2012.
  37. ^ Allen, Nick (5 December 2012). "Wikipedia, the 25-year–old student and the prank that fooled Leveson". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  38. ^ Andy McSmith (30 November 2012). "Leveson's Wikipedia moment: how internet 'research' on The Independent's history left him red-faced". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022.
  39. ^ "Judges let Leveson journalists retain their anonymity". London Evening Standard. 20 February 2012.
  40. ^ "Judgments: The Queen on the Application of Associated Newspapers Limited v The Rt Hon Lord Justice Leveson (as chairman of the Leveson Inquiry)". Judiciary of England and Wales. 20 January 2012.
  41. ^ "No 10 denies 'threats' made over Daily Telegraph probe". BBC News. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  42. ^ Wright, Oliver (12 December 2012). "Senior David Cameron aide accused of threatening newspaper over Maria Miller investigation". The Independent. Independent Print Ltd. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  43. ^ Watt, Nicholas (12 December 2012). "Downing Street and Daily Telegraph at war over Maria Miller allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  44. ^ Watt, Nicholas (13 December 2012). "Maria Miller faces parliamentary investigation into her expenses". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  45. ^ "Maria Miller expenses inquiry launched". BBC News. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  46. ^ Gold, Tanya (15 December 2012). "Maria Miller's woeful tale may have saved journalism". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  47. ^ "House of Lords Select Committee on the Inquiries Act 2005" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.

Further reading

  • Barnett, Steven, and Judith Townend. "'And What Good Came of it at Last?' Press–Politician Relations Post‐Leveson." Political Quarterly (2014) 85#2 pp: 159–169.
  • Cohen-Almagor, Raphael. "After Leveson Recommendations for Instituting the Public and Press Council." International Journal of Press/Politics (2014) 19#2 pp: 202–225.
  • Thomas, Ryan J., and Teri Finneman, "Who watches the watchdogs? British newspaper metadiscourse on the Leveson Inquiry." Journalism Studies (2014) 15#2 pp: 172–186.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 February 2024, at 13:08
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