Lichfield MP cautious over Leveson Inquiry call for law to aid press regulation

Dec 3, 2012 by Ross

Lichfield’s MP has called for careful consideration of the Leveson Inquiry recommendations before any steps are taken to put elements of press regulation into law.

The report made a number of recommendations about the future regulation of the press – including a suggestion that legislation should be introduced.

Although Prime Minister David Cameron has endorsed many of the Leveson findings, he has so far stopped short of backing a new law to help manage the media.

His stance has been backed by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant who says serious consideration would need to be given to any such move.

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

“I have been appalled by the actions of some newspapers and a few journalists over the years,” he said. ” It is not just a recent phenomenon. The press were told they were “drinking at the last chance saloon” back in 1989 after they had behaved badly.

“What is clear is that the status quo is not an option. The press cannot be allowed to continue as they are. However, the question is how tightly a free press in a democratic nation should be regulated and whether a legal framework is needed to do it at all. I don’t believe we should rush into a quick decision on this.

“I have some serious concerns and misgivings on this recommendation [for legislation]. The issue of principle is that for the first time we would have written elements of press regulation into the law of the land.

“We should be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press. We should think very carefully before crossing this line though it may still be necessary.

“There may be alternative options of putting in place incentives, providing reassurance to the public and ensuring the Leveson principles are put in place and these options must be explored.

“I am against making any snap judgement one way or another on the Leveson Report until all avenues have been explored. If, however, after this process the only alternative is to introduce a legal framework, then I will support this.”

Mr Fabricant also warned that any move to add such regulation could be a lengthy process.

He explained: “On the grounds of practicality, however simple the intention, the legislation required to underpin the regulatory body would be more complicated.

“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.”

Advertise here and reach 10,000 visitors every month!

  1. Whilst we do need to get this absolutely right, Lord Leveson’s report wasn’t “Bonkers” and the Prime Minister said he would “absolutely” implement the recommendations in that case. It’s not our local press that abuses people in the way we have all been appalled by during the Inquiry but many of the national ones whose only interest seems to be sales.

  2. Yet again, Mickey sits on the fence…

  3. Tony Blair once accused William Hague when he was Leader of the Opposition of ‘jumping on every bandwagon that moved’. He may have been right. This is now the case with Ed Miliband and Leveson. This NOT a simple issue even if some readers have simple minds. Putting press regulation in law is a big deal – or should be in our country. If the editors cannot put tough rules in place, we will have to legislate but let’s wait and see what they come up with first.

  4. Is that your view or your party view Michael?

    Firstly because it’s tosh, secondly the press have had numerous chances to regulate themselves and have failed miserably each time.

    Opposition is what it is, a chance to take a populous stance and to be honest, why wouldn’t they. There’s public will for change in press regulation, in that respect David Cameron is going against public feeling. Is this because we’re too stupid, as you’ve alluded to in your comment?

    The Tories do seem to have taken some sort of mandate as if you were elected with a majority, yet the truth is you’re in a deeply unpopular coalition that is in great danger of being voted out at the next general election. I assume this is why DC continues to plod on with a variety of policies which are pretty unpalatable to the public, and ignores the democratic view of the nation.

    I guess in reality, he has nothing to lose.

    If Cameron wants to lead, he should listen, this is a democracy not an autocracy.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Ashleigh Coleridge

    Typically rude and arrogant – should we assume that the real wiggy speaks?

  6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Doopster

    Simple – and that’s why it’s bye bye at the next election.

  7. I was merely responding to Steve Norman and BrownhillsBob who both seems to think the solution is simple. It isn’t.

  8. It’s as simple or as difficult as we make it, comments like this are patronising to the electorate.

    I could walk into the street and ask anyone whether the recent story by the Sunday Sport about an ‘up-skirt shot’ of Holly Willoughby was “in the public interest”, it doesn’t take a lawyer or any learn’d person, it merely takes a reasonable person, who can circumvent titillation to see there’s no public interest in that story whatsoever, and the courts agreed with her.

    We don’t need statute to cover every eventuality. Stories in the press are varied and wide ranging. What we need is the ability, when someone complains, to take this to an independent body backed by the law, who can apply the “public interest” test.

    In that respect, we open up redress to everyone, not just the rich and famous – as such I think this is what the newspapers fear the most and why they are putting pressure on David Cameron who, rather disgracefully, is acceding.