The bonkers logic of “Life of Brian” Leveson

Lord Justice Leveson: Bonkers  logic

Lord Justice Leveson: Bonkers logic

Now I have been given carte blanche by the Leveson inquiry to write what I want on blogs without any regulation I am going to take full advantage with some tough words for this judge on his lack of logic.

Like Lord Hutton before him who exonerated Labour over Iraq his report exonerates the current great and good in government and the media bosses from blame for the current crisis. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, is cleared of bias over Murdoch;  News International’s Rebekah Brooks of undue lobbying of Cameron over the McCann inquiry or anything else; Cameron and his government of any  favours deal with the  Murdochs and the police of widespread corruption. Cameron can be trusted to introduce reforms to make sure  public perception is changed.

But go further into this report – see http://www.exaronews.com today.  Go to Volume Four and Appendix Five – and get one of the most devastating critiques of the incestuous relationship between top politicians and the media I have ever read from a High Court judge in my 26 years of political journalism.

Unlike Hutton he really puts the boot in. Here and I quote he attacks what he calls the ” inappropriate  closeness” between media bosses and successive governments not just now – but for over 35 years. Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron are all indicted in a damning charge sheet.

He baldly states “ politicians have conducted themselves in a way that I do consider has not served the public interest”.

He accuses them of being vulnerable to unaccountable interests, missing clear opportunities to address  public concern about the culture, practices and ethics of the press and  seeking “ to control ( if not manipulate) the supply of news and information to the public in return for expected or hoped-for favourable treatment by sections of the press.”

He concluded that all this gave rise to “legitimate perceptions and concerns that politicians and the press have traded power and influence in ways which are contrary to the public interest and out of public sight. These perceptions and concerns are inevitably particularly acute in relation to the conduct by politicians of public policy issues in relations to the press itself.”

Now where does he get that view. By page 1971  as a good judge he cites his sources. And guess who gets reams of footnotes, one, Rebekah Brooks, from the McCann inquiry to Brown ,Blair and Cameron – the very person in the main part of the report is absolved from dirty deals!

Perhaps I have misread this million word treatise -  Brian Leveson is  actually auditioning for a Monty Python script or to help revive Bremner, Bird and Fortune for Channel Four.

His other glaring lack of logic is the treatment of the internet as of no consequence. I have a sneaking suspicion he thinks the internet is tun by techy teenage geeks playing war games and mad loud mouths. In fact it is now becoming a powerful antidote and rival to the dead tree press as a forum for discussion and breaking news. The battle for future generation politics is being fought  between Owen Jones and Harry Cole  on-line every day.  And there would be no way this small one man blog would get 158,000 plus hits in less than three years if the internet has been ineffectual.

On the main issue of  regulation or no regulation, I am reserving judgement. My heart is with those who argue that a free press is just that, a free press. My head is revolted by the despicable practices of some of the tabloid bosses who may well now go to prison. I applaud  the idea of a journalist’s conscience clause and his views on treatment of women and people from ethnic minorities and a new  arbitration service that will give justice to Joe Public as well multi-millionaires. But I want to see what this new press act will look like before going down the road to statutory backing. Let debate begin.

4 thoughts on “The bonkers logic of “Life of Brian” Leveson

  1. My guess is he soft-gloved the politicians to make it more likely that they’d adopt his proposals, and that he allowed the press to design the new system to assuage their concerns. Trading logic (and the blatantly obvious reality) for pragmatism, if you will.

    Re the internet. I think it must be said, that while blogs, websites and social media increasingly break stories and have a growing readership, there’s a case for saying that none of the sites unrelated to a print media title currently (or for the foreseeable future) have the readership, political influence and clout to actually bully, blackmail, intimidate and harass people in the manner revealed at Leveson – with the solitary exception of Guido. Libel laws and the criminal law apply to all – as we know – so in terms of what Leveson is trying to tackle above and beyond that, there’s a case for saying that at this moment in time, it doesn’t really apply to web-only publishing.

  2. As James Madison, who framed the US Constitution’s protection of freedom of expression, pointed out: It is often prudent to permit some abuse of freedom of expression to ensure that legitimate use of the right is not discouraged. He said: “Some degree of abuse is inseparable from the proper use of everything, and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press. It … is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigour of those yielding the proper fruits.”

    What Leveson – who I’m sorry to say is also the current Chairman of the Governors of my old school – and all those clamouring for full implementation of his ill-judged and over-prescriptive recommendations need to understand is that White does not exist without Black and Good cannot be recognised without comparison with Evil. It’s an unfortunate truth that’s part of Life.

  3. WAKEY WAKEY people, The Leveson inquiry is exactly what it was always meant to be, and has gone just as it was planned to go. it is a marshmellow fist in a velvet glove just like the past 7 inquiries into press standards. Murdoch’s faithful, cow-towing numpties will take their editorially directive pills just as they always have, giving Him the chance to use his undue influence over the politicians he wishes to manipulate.
    Personally I want a free press in this country, but I also want a responsible press who are able to be brought to justice by any of us for undue intrusion into our lives, not just those wealthy enough to be able to afford to go after them. We need a PCC with teeth not gums, we need reporters with independent thought capabilities who are not afraid to dig deep into who really runs this country, because I’ll tell you now, it’s not the government. Surely there is no real room for lobbyists from multinational business interests in a true democracy, but then again, we don’t live in one of those anyway DO WE?
    As for the internet, I said some 5 yrs ago that we would not be allowed free access to this most valuable resource for much longer, the powers that be are already making plans to take it away from us through legislation to bring it under laws covering telephones and mobile communications regulation, this will involve a total denial of service option, freezing of account and ISP access for trouble makers and anti government movements, ‘Sender Pays’ options for e-mail and text/data transmission. Restrictions on Site location/content access similar to China’s current ones which saw Google withdraw from there a while back.
    Restrictive charging for these services will make the internet the preserve of the well off and funded groups, most of which will have political agendas that will be pro ‘New World Order’ (No I’m not a conspiracy theorist, it’s just that if you keep finding pieces of the puzzle and they all fit into only one big picture of global dehumanisation then it’s probably the right picture) So be prepared to say goodby to all your freedoms soon, whether you are the press, a citizen, parent or anyone who does not seem ‘Normal’ or compliant in society. After all the internet allows us freedom of expression, thought and association, and we can’t have that now can we?. Expect charges for Skype, internet calls etc and lots more intrusive advertising everywhere you don’t want it, making cyberspace just an extension of the consumerist dictatorship.
    George Orwell must be screaming ‘I told you so’ from the grave, shaking his head in disbelief at the ignorance towards the warnings he gave.
    After Leveson, nothing will change really, because it was never meant to, the injured parties just got the chance to vent their spleen, they will say ‘We made mistakes, we have taken on board all the criticism, and we will put measures in place to ensure they don’t happen again’….Till the next time!!

  4. Couldn’t get the comments to work – FOLKS JUST TYPE
    Any hows, I followed most of Leveson live, almost became compulsive viewing. Contrary to what the well-heeled and Leveson think, WE the general public DO NOT HAVE piss-pots for brains. Admittedly, I have not read his report, TBH I don’t think I would fully understand it (sorry that sounds a bit like a contradition). But I had followed specifically one item in great detail, from what I recall as actual news as it happened to the Leveson gameplay of Cameron, Brooks & May. That was sufficient to me to draw the conclusion that it was a whitewash exercise, irrespective of outcomes. Yes the press treat the public with little regard for intelligence (as well) and they need to think about some of their practices, but I don’t think they have ever portrayed themselves WHITER THAN white. On the other hand our elective representatives can be kicked out next time around! – but sadly irrespective of ‘colour’ THEY ARE ALL THE SAME.

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