Press gets lock in at last chance saloon

For weeks, I’ve listened to arguments about the press ahead of Leveson’s damning report today. It’s depressing, but not surprising, how quick people on all sides of the debate have been to reach judgements about the report, which appears at first glance to be thoughtful, proportionate and measured.

During the hearing, we’ve heard sickening tales of people traduced by media misconduct. It shouldn’t be forgotten how people like the McCanns, the Dowlers and Christopher Jefferies were treated at times when their lives were already under huge strain. Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church (who was on Question Time tonight) have sounded at times like they are speaking for the country when calling for independent regulation of the press. It was painful to see experienced tabloid journalists Trevor Kavanagh and Nevile Thurlbeck speak on Channel 4 News tonight about the importance of a free media. Surely noone disagrees with this. But their performance tonight suggested that they don’t get what’s happening around them, or what they need to do to deal with it.

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Leveson hears from old contact

Martin Salter MP
Martin Salter MP (Photo credit: stopaidscampaign)

I was interested to the read latest from the Leveson Inquiry, which touched on how an old contact Martin Salter was treated by the News of the World when he was my MP in Reading. My old paper the Reading Chronicle reported on his written evidence as part of Labour MP Tom Watson’s appearance at the hearing this week.

Mr Salter has said before that he believes he became an ‘enemy’ of the News of the World for publicly refusing to back its controversial ‘Sarah’s Law’ anti-paedophile campaign in 2000. I worked with Martin on a number of stories at around this time, and remember him explaining his reasons for not backing the campaign to name all convicted paedophiles, stating that it could endanger the children it is intended to protect by driving sex offenders underground.

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Trouble for Times: hacking gives Harding a headache

There were some highly uncomfortable moments at The Leveson Inquiry today for The Times editor James Harding, who apologised after one of his reporters was found to have hacked into an email account to unmask anonymous police blogger DC Richard Horton (aka Nightjack).

Harding told the inquiry he ‘sorely regrets’ not disclosing the actions of his former media correspondent Patrick Foster at a High Court hearing into a privacy injunction brought by Horton against the paper. The hearing found in favour of The Times.

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Links I like 11.11.18

Tom Watson reveals how the phone hacking scandal affected him – Express and Star
This local newspaper column was being shared across Twitter this morning. MP and ‘scourge of the tabloids’ Tom Watson writes in the Express and Star about the campaign against phone hacking which has played a huge part in exposing the problems at News International. This is Watson playing to his home crowd in the Midlands and setting out his case well. He admits to feeling as if he was ‘cracking up’ under the scrutiny when he stood down as Labour minister, adding that most MPs thought he was ‘mad’ when he began squaring up to Rupert Murdoch’s empire. Many will be thankful that he did. The Express and Star comes in for some credit for not jumping on the bandwagon when the national media (wrongly) reported stories about Watson’s private life. A decent column from someone at the heart of the story of the year, rather than the dry material that sometimes comes from local columnists, is payback for that.

Daily Mail editor’s speech at media enquiry

The heavyweight appearances at the Leveson inquiry keep coming, with Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre giving a rare and fascinating personal insight this afternoon into the issues facing today’s media.

His defence of self regulation and the Press Complaints Commission may have come too late, but there were some notable concessions in his speech too, including a promise to have a corrections column in a prominent position in his papers. Who would have thought that would have happened a year ago? I will be following this development with some interest.

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Editor’s final speech to NoTW colleagues

With the News International crisis escalating further this week, it’s been easy to forget that just a few days ago many News of the World journalists who had nothing to do with the phone hacking scandal were caught in the crossfire and lost their jobs as a result.

This video on YouTube of the editor Colin Myler’s final address to staff goes some way to revealing the emotions in Fortress Wapping on that final day. It’s undoubtedly heartfelt – and of much more interest and relevance than some of the filler material purveyed by broadcasters on this subject in the last few days.