Wednesday 26 October 2016

What Cameron said

Published 02/12/2012 | 05:00

'LORD Justice Leveson makes some important proposals. First, some changes to the Data Protection Act that would reduce the special treatment that journalists are afforded when dealing with personal data.

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"We must consider this very carefully – particularly the impact this could have on investigative journalism.

"While I have only been able to make preliminary investigations about this since reading the report, I am instinctively concerned about this proposal.

"Second, he proposes changes to establish a system of incentives for each newspaper to take part in the system of self-regulation.

"I agree that there should be incentives and believe those ones that he sets out – such as the award of costs and exemplary damages in litigation – could be effective.

"He goes on to propose legislation that would help deliver those incentives and also – crucially – provide "an independent process to recognise the new self-regulatory body".

"This would, he says, 'reassure the public that the basic requirements of independence and effectiveness were met and would continue to be met'.

"Now I have some serious concerns and misgivings on this recommendation.

"They break down into issues of principle, practicality and necessity.

"The issue of principle is that for the first time we would have crossed the rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land.

"We should, I believe, be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press.

"In this House – which has been a bulwark of democracy for centuries – we should think very, very carefully before crossing this line.

"On the grounds of practicality, no matter how simple the intention of the new law, the legislation required to underpin the regulatory body would, I believe, become more complicated."

Mr Cameron then referred to what the report says about validating the standards code and the need to "identify legitimate requirements".

"The danger is that this would create a vehicle for politicians whether today or some time in the future to impose regulation and obligations on the press, something that Lord Justice Leveson himself wishes to avoid.

"Third, on the grounds of necessity, I am not convinced at this stage that statute is necessary to achieve Lord Justice Leveson's objectives.

"I believe there may be alternative options for putting in place incentives, providing reassurance to the public and ensuring the Leveson principles of regulation are put in place and these options must be explored.

"Mr Speaker, there are questions, including those on data protection, which are fundamental questions we must resolve in order to implement Lord Justice Leveson's report."

Mr Cameron ended his speech with the following points.

"While no one wants to see full statutory regulation, let me stress: the status quo is not an option. Be in no doubt – we should be determined to see Lord Justice Leveson's principles implemented.

"Mr Speaker, there is much that we in this country can be proud of: the oldest democracy in the world; the freedom of speech; a free press; frank and healthy public debate. But this Report lays bare that the system of press regulation we have is badly broken – and has let down victims badly. Our responsibility is to fix this. The task for us now is to build this new system of press regulation that supports our great traditions of investigative journalism and of free speech but that protects the rights of the vulnerable and the innocent and commands the confidence of the whole country."


Sunday Independent

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