Leveson Inquiry confronts press regulation issues


The inquiry, launched on Sunday, is expected to hear from Milly Dowler’s family, Hugh Grant, the McCanns and J.K. Rowling.


By Katriona Ormiston

The Leveson Inquiry was launched on Monday at the Royal Courts of Justice to confront the issue of press regulation in Britain.

The inquiry is expected to hear from Milly Dowler’s family, Hugh Grant, the McCanns and J. K. Rowling in the next few weeks.

These witnesses, among others from the public, press, police and politicians, will give evidence under oath.

Chairman of the Inquiry Lord Justice Leveson spoke of the importance of the press as the guardians of democracy and free speech but asked: “Who guards the guardians?

“Guarding the guardians is not an optional add-on.”

The inquiry was called by Prime Minister David Cameron in July days after the revelation that the voicemail of missing teenager Milly Dowler had been hacked into and erased.

This gave her family false hope that she was still alive.

Milly’s father listened to proceedings with his head bowed.

Lord Justice Leveson warned the press not to victimise inquiry witnesses.

This reference may have had much to do with the press’ recent treatment of Hugh Grant.

The Fulham-based actor was particularly vocal against press practices in the summer.

Professor of journalism at Kingston University, Brian Cathcart, said on his website: “The press and the Mail has chosen to make an example of him.

“It is saying to any prominent person who challenges the press: if you speak out, this is what we will do to you.”

This may explain the press’ enthusiastic coverage in the last few weeks of him as having fathered a child after what papers called ‘a fleeting affair’.

Lord Justice Leveson therefore said newspapers will be monitored to ensure witnesses’ rights are not being abused.

Counsel to the inquiry, Robert Jay QC, outlined findings from the notebooks of private investigator Glen Mulcaire.

These notes implicated Mulcaire’s work hacking phones for the Sun, the Daily Mirror and the News of the World.

They reveal the names of 5,795 possible victims, the inquiry heard.

The inquiry’s full report is to be prepared within a year.

It is expected to decide what is to be done about the current self-regulation of the press and the future of the Press Complaints Commission.


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