Coffee House

Hacked Off produces its own ‘clean’ Leveson legislation

7 January 2013

12:08 PM

7 January 2013

12:08 PM

It is no great surprise that Hacked Off director Brian Cathcart believes the government can’t be trusted to implement Leveson: the Prime Minister made very clear on the day of the report’s publication that he didn’t believe governments could be trusted to regulate the press via statute.

But what is interesting about the draft bill that the media reform pressure group has published this morning is that it claims to be the most faithful implementation of the Leveson recommendations: more faithful, even, than that proposed by the Labour party.


Ed Miliband has thus far managed to paint himself as the brave little David standing up to the media Goliaths on behalf of the victims of press intrusion, but rather than working with Labour on its draft bill, which it published before Christmas, Hacked Off is producing its own ‘pure’ version. Though Cathcart takes fire mainly at ministers and media bosses in his op-ed in the Guardian, he does also remind Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband of their promises to implement Leveson’s proposals before writing that ‘the Hacked Off approach is closest to the Leveson vision and is the ‘clean’ way to proceed, free of the self-interested distortions and industry manipulations inevitable in behind-closed-doors haggling’. That sets the pressure group against all politicians, not just the anti-statute Tories, which is not good news for Labour.

One thing to look out for over the next few weeks before a crunch vote on the legislation towards the end of January is how many Tory MPs continue to back statutory underpinning: a few have already retracted their support, but will the government’s current proposal of a Royal Charter satisfy many more?

Is Leveson a fundamental threat to a free press? On Wednesday 30 January, the Spectator hosts a debate between advocates of statutory regulation Chris Bryant and Max Mosley and those against statute, Richard Littlejohn, Paul Staines and John Whittingdale. You can book tickets here.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments

    Why do a bunch of celebrities get to determine the nature of a basic building block of free society simply to suit their own ends?

  • HellforLeather

    You are going to pay the likes of Max Mosley and Chris Bryant to appear at such an event? Or are they doing it for charity? If they’re being paid, would you mind telling us how much (each)?


      If it is important to society you would expect them to speak for expenses only, otherwise they are just selling their opinions.

  • Ian Walker

    “he didn’t believe governments could be trusted to regulate the press via statute.”

    Or alternatively, goverments could be trusted not to regulate the press via statute. Which seems like a damned fine state of affairs.

    I think this shows that Hacked Off, not content with wanting the media gagged, think that this ‘democracy’ stuff is also a bit inconvenient.

    If they want to change the law, then form a political party, get voted into power, then enact it. I expect Hugh Grant would make a very photogenic PM.


      I agree with the first bit of that sentence…

      “didn’t believe Governments could be trusted”!

  • Noa

    “..the Spectator hosts a debate between advocates of statutory regulation Chris Bryant and Max Mosley…”

    So it’s a formal evening dress and party uniform event then? Cracking!

  • anyfool

    That the press give credence, publicity and column interest to to a bunch of sexual deviants trying to keep their activities from investigation by the press suggests that the press should be regulated with a severe thrashing by Miss Whiplash if she is still in business.
    If not, you could take up her mantle Miss Hardman, Put Fraser down first as he looks pale and could do with livening up.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Is this what this poxy little island has finally come to in its embrace of the tyranny of minorities? That now legislation is going to be drafted by every barmy pressure group, Twitter mob and agenda monkey who will scweam and scweam and scweam until they get their own way and coerce that useless, cowardly mob in Westminster to cave in?

  • Nicholas Hallam

    “Unlawful unless it is for a legitimate purpose”.

    Quality drafting.

    • HellforLeather

      Guido Fawkes is quite good in clarifying this part.

      Don’t need to give you the link. You probably all know it by now.

  • Owen_Morgan

    I take it that Bryant and Mosley will be appearing fully clothed, for once, and that, in Mosley’s case, he does turn out to own a shirt that isn’t black.

    • Colonel Mustard

      For his part in this nonsense Mosley deserves a visit to the Headmistress for a damn good thrashing.

      • Wessex Man

        Na, he’d enjoy it too much, far more worthy surely to make him spend a night with Hooks Law!

  • Austin Barry

    Leveson’s strictures on press freedom are already, de facto, in effect. The press are now as wobbly as a wobble board.


      We need a truly independent press and it needs to appear online and beyond UK jurisdiction.

  • ToryOAP

    Clean? It includes the potential for government interference – something the suspect democrats of the left would no doubt exercise:

    (3) Interference with the activities of the media by Ministers

    of the Crown and public officials shall be unlawful

    unless it is for a legitimate purpose and is necessary in a

    democratic society, having full regard to the importance

    of media freedom in a democracy.

    • Colonel Mustard

      e.g. Interference in the activites of the chicken coop by the fox shall be unlawful unless it is considered legitimate and necessary by the fox having full regard to the needs of the chickens.

      Yes, that’ll work.

  • Stuart Eels

    What right has this bunch of “celebrities” to put forward their pure , clean legislation, no one’s voted for these people who were happy enough to splash their lives all over the papers when it suited them.

    What we need is a really strong independent press and to hear a little less from people like Steve Coogan and Max Mosley.

    • Austin Barry

      Oh, come on. If you had been fellated by a whore in Hollywood wouldn’t you want to be able to control what the press reports about the matter? Of course you would. Now where’s my Ladies Directory?

      • David Ossitt

        What is the Ladies Directory?

        • Austin Barry

          See Shaw -v- DPP [1962] AC 220 House of Lords.

    • Dimoto

      Haven’t you noticed ?
      Journos like nothing better than to give free publicity to every passing self-serving lobby group. The newspapers would have hardly any content without celeb PR hand-outs and corrupt lobby propaganda.
      It’s back to the eighteenth century for this dire profession.


        It saves a lot of work if they just reproduce hand outs.