In 2011, the British press was rocked by a phone hacking scandal that led to arrests, the closing down of the News of the World and the Leveson Inquiry – a year long investigation into press ethics that veered from the fascinating to the farcical as politicians, editors and celebrities took turns to debate the pros and cons of the fourth estate.
This week, the implications of the inquiry finally came to a head as two proposals for a new system of press regulation were considered. One, put forward by a collation of newspapers, detailed a more robust system of self-regulation. The other, by politicians and the Hugh Grant / Steve Coogan-led pressure group Hacked Off, argued for a system underpinned by state legislation. So far, the debate is swinging for the politicians.
In the midst of an argument beset on both sides by undeniable self-interest (as well as at least a smidgen of concern for the future of the country), we round up ten articles, clips and moments of satire that give food for thought on both sides of the debate.
"I'd like to see politicians man up and abandon all this law-that-isn't-a-law nonsense and be honest about what it is they're after. Which is a press that bows to the will of Parliament, and shows some damn respect, and gets a battering if it does not[...]. Let them pass their damned law[...]. And then, when the Mugabes and Putins of the world fall smirking into line behind them, let them look in the mirror and see how much they like what they see."
Times columnist, 'If you must kill free speech, at least admit it', October 2013.
In an article for The Telegraph, 'It's a vigorous, voracious press that keeps our country honest.', October 2013
According to a recent YouGov poll, 71% of us support the government proposal that the press should be independantly regulated, presumably still appauled by the hacking scandal.
Good to see the obedient and sycophantic lying so loudly in the Sundays re Charter. Truth irrelevant. Paymaster's agenda paramount.
— Hugh Grant (@HackedOffHugh) October 13, 2013
Apropos of nothing - Boris is paid £250,000 a year by Channel Islands resident twins, is chum of Murdoch and would like to be Tory leader.
— Hugh Grant (@HackedOffHugh) October 14, 2013
Don't believe the propaganda. Leveson is zero threat to free speech. My bit in Grauniad here - http://t.co/2ZBnDpMCWf
— Hugh Grant (@HackedOffHugh) October 8, 2013
"No one seriously argues that broadcasting, regulated by Ofcom, is censored by the state. The proposition that people should be able to seek redress from an independent body when journalists publish inaccuracies or harass the bereaved is hardly revolutionary. Beware of posturing about threats to press freedom: what diehard critics of the cross-party charter really fear is an end to impunity – the prerogative of tyrants everywhere."
Human rights activist, journalist and members of Hacked Off in an article for the Independent 'Which stories will we need be allowed to read?', October 2013.
In an article for the Spectator, 'The right does not own freedom',October 2013