Tuesday 16 January 2018

Press must face deadline for action, claim victims group

Arj Singh, Rhiannon Williams and Radhika Sanghani

THE press must be set a deadline to implement Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations, according to campaign group Hacked Off.

The group, which represents victims of press intrusion, said the Leveson report proposals were “reasonable and proportionate” and should be implemented as soon as possible.

Former Crimewatch presenter and police officer Jacqui Hames, a victim of phone hacking, read out a statement on behalf of Hacked Off.

She said: "The judge had rightly condemned this outrageous conduct of the press in the recent years.

"The crucial point is the importance he places on the complete independence of regulation from politicians and from the editors and proprietors, who run the wholly discredited PCC.

"He has proposed a system of voluntary and independent self-regulation.

"The proposals made by the industry do not come close to this ideal.

"What is needed is a regulator which can properly and effectively protect the victims of press misconduct.

"He has recommended that this be backed by legislation to protect the public and the press.

"These proposals are reasonable and proportionate and we call on all parties to get together to implement them as soon as possible.

"The press must be given a deadline, the inquiry is over, now is the time for action."

David Sherborne, counsel for victims who gave evidence to the Inquiry, called the report: "A weighty and impressive document, especially as it's been produced within the tight timeframe which Lord Justice Leveson set himself at the outset.

"Whilst I'm sure that many of the individual core participant victims will be giving their own reactions, the consensus is that we welcome the contents of the report, and in particular both the findings it contains and the recommendations that are proposed.

"In particular, there is a clear recognition of the wide-scale failings in the culture, ethics and standards of the press, and the devastating consequences this has had for the victims.

He continued, of the Inquiry: "It recommends strong regulation of the press by a new independent body, which is to be set up with real teeth.

"Importantly, this regulatory body is to be recognised and approved of by an underpinning statute. It proposes incentives for the press to sign up to this body of their own volition, and a fail-safe backstop regulator and other statutory systems if an individual newspaper, or the industry as a whole, fails to implement these recommendations properly.

"The Hunt-Black proposal, which has been supported by the majority of the print media, has been demonstrated to be utterly unworkable, and should be consigned to a footnote in history, which is where it belongs.

"In the face of compelling and often disturbing evidence, which my clients gave to the Inquiry, about their experiences at the hands of the press over the years, the need for a strong and independent regulator is frankly unarguable.

"And Lord Justice Leveson has recommended exactly that. It only remains now for elected politicians to keep their promises and to put aside their personal relationships with proprietors and editors.

"The whole reason why the Government appointed such a senior judge to conduct this public inquiry into press standards was because politicians have been compromised, as module three so graphically demonstrated.

"Today it seems we have finally learned from the failings of the past, and it is time now to implement these judicial recommendations within a timeframe so that if the press fails to create this independent regulator, it must be this parliament which imposes a statutory system upon them."

Press Association

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