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The Independent Leveson Inquiry

Lord Justice Leveson hints at new system of independent press regulation

By Hamish Mackay

January 11, 2012 | 2 min read

Lord Justice Leveson has suggested that a new system of independent press regulation not involving any direct state or government intervention could be the outcome of his judicial review.

This is the interpretation of The Independent today of comments by Lord Justice Leveson yesterday during the on-going Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

The Independent reports: “Since the Leveson inquiry began last October, Lord Justice Leveson has appeared careful to reveal as little as possible about the shape his preferred reforms will take.

“But his judicial guard dropped yesterday during a day of questioning and intense discussion with leading Fleet Street editors.

“Following the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, which acted as a catalyst for reviewing other tabloid "dark arts", the effectiveness of self-regulation in Britain – currently with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) – has been questioned.”

Lord Justice Leveson said that small changes to the current regulation system would not be enough: "It won't be good enough to say you can just tinker around at the edges."

He said he could envisage a regulatory system that was independent of the press industry itself, but not bound by the state's authority, saying “I would be very surprised if government regulation ever even entered my mind". There has been fears that the Inquiry would impose state-driven control.

The editor of The Independent, Chris Blackhurst, yesterday told Lord Justice Leveson that although he recognised the need for reform, he was "worried" the outcome of the inquiry would curtail the industry's ability to continue investigative journalism.

The Independent adds: “Lord Justice Leveson again hinted that he was keen his reforms would not impact adversely on what he called ‘appropriate’ journalism.

“Mr Blackhurst suggested any new regulator could operate in the way the Law Society or the General Medical Council governed the practices of lawyers and doctors.

“However, Lord Justice Leveson said this could be problematic because the state decides who can practise as a doctor or a solicitor, but journalists essentially practised the right to freedom of expression.”

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