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Hacked Off says press damages plan is a mistake

21 March 2013

6:30 PM

21 March 2013

6:30 PM

So the latest twist in the surreal saga of statutory regulation of the press is that the campaign group which had unparalleled access to the three parties hammering out a settlement in the silent watches of the night now thinks there’s been a terrible mistake. Whoops! Hacked Off has put out a statement this afternoon which says the amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill approved by MPs on Monday night contain ‘an accident in the drafting’ and is now trying to change the amendments so that they won’t impact bloggers and small publishers. You can read the full statement here, but this is the key section:

‘The amendments are the work of Conservatives in government and not of Labour, the Liberal Democrats or for that matter Hacked Off.

‘They have not been endorsed in any way by Hacked Off. On the contrary, at the weekend we urged the three parties not to approve them finally there and then, but to leave time for them to be improved. The parties agreed to this.

‘For what it is worth, we believe the potential impact on bloggers and small publishers was unforeseen – an accident in the drafting – and we know of no reason why politicians might resist efforts to put things right.

‘The amendments go to the House of Lords on Monday for what is likely to be their last stage in Parliament. New changes, if they are to be adopted, have to be ready tomorrow.’

The campaign group says it hopes its changes will mean ‘almost all bloggers, with a very few, rare exceptions will be completely untouched by the changes’. Aside from the fact that Hacked Off isn’t a minister or a backbench MP or indeed a representative of the industry (a campaign group that seems to hate newspapers, particularly successful ones, had four representatives circling the talks on Sunday night, but the newspapers didn’t get their chance to have a say), this shows what a mess this late night deal is.

You can read Fraser’s cover piece on why the Spectator won’t be signing up to a Royal Charter here. And the Economist has also announced it opposes the plan, while increasing numbers of regional and local papers are warning that the deal could cripple the cash-strapped press. It’s worth noting that now the New Statesman has said it won’t back the Royal Charter either, it’s difficult for those pushing for this system to make the argument that it’s just angry right-wingers who don’t like the new system. For a publication close to Labour, who initially backed full implementation of the Leveson report, to say that this deal stinks shows that politicians might have been unwise to be so self-congratulatory in the Chamber on Monday night.

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Show comments
  • paulus

    Ah well its a bit of a shame really, to comment on politics is opinion, it looks like the lefties, who twist facts to suit their own world view have cottoned on to the fact that evry right wing think tank in the country would have been able to ream them thru a court, print apologies and shut them down. Sometimes when you think beyond bounderies you think beyond reason or what is possible.Well we all know my feelings it doesnt seem like a win unless everyone is dead.

  • Tom Burroughes

    It is my fervent hope that none of us has to hear or read of the HO crowd, particularly the supercilious Hugh Grant, ever again. They have done enough damage with their mix of naivete, blithe indifference to liberty and posturing. And the shame of it all is that there were appalling crimes committed, by some reporters and bent police, but the lasting feeling I have about all this is that we’ve lost freedoms because of the antics of celebrities.

  • Ron Todd

    I am less worried about how the press and internet regulation will work in the short term more worried about what future governments particularly socialist governments could turn it into. When politicians create something overly complicated I always suspect they are trying to hide something. And I always suspect that what they are trying to hide is something that would not be to the advantage of the rest of us.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Has BBC Online signed up?

    • Maidmarrion

      Don’t know about the whole BBBC but BBBC Scotland signed up to censorship almost 2 years ago by stopping any comments on their blogs – basically because their output was found to be utterly suspect by those commenting and they kept telling BBBC Scotland so, BBBC Scotland didn’t like it and stopped allowing comments so that they could continue to obfuscate ,spin and misinform the people of Scotland.

      • Andy

        Well the Labour Broadcasting Corporation don’t like any form of criticism.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Is it just me or are Hacked off acting like a bunch of entitled jumped up little despots. Someone should go tell them to shove it where the sun don’t shine. They are destroying one of the most important freedoms we have left. Who the freak do they think they are! Our laws are not their personal plaything.

    The fact the three party leaders are acting like their personal puppets is a disgrace!

    • Colonel Mustard

      They are just a pressure group with dodgy backers. One of too many blighting the good, ordinary people of Britain. But the real culprits are Milibandwagon, who seems to think he is entitled to legislate in opposition, and the Flailing Dutchman Clegg whose behaviour, as supposed Deputy PM in a coalition government, is an absolute disgrace. Whatever possessed those two clowns to believe that democracy could be served by conniving with the Hacked Off gang to dictate terms to a supine and ineffective Cameron should be taken as a warning about their fitness to govern. “Omnishambles” has been much misused but in this case…

      • Democritus

        “Milibandwagon, who seems to think he is entitled to legislate in opposition”

        Erm well he wouldn’t have been able to if he didn’t have the backing of all the opposition parties, the Lib Dems and 20 conservative MPs. That is the way our parliament works when you have a weak, out of touch PM.

        • Colonel Mustard

          It’s not about whether he is able to but whether he should. And since it never went to a vote his supposed “backing” was never tested.

          But that is not how our parliament should work, whether the PM is weak or out of touch or not. It is the way Labour work, with a dogmatic belief that only they can represent “the public” and that only they should rule. They spend their time in government doing everything they can to discomfort the Tories and their time in opposition doing every thing they can to undermine government. I watched Milibandwagon’s triumphalism after the stitch-up and found it “disgusting” (© Amy Rutland).

    • Daniel Maris

      No it’s not just you. Various lowlifes have got together to lecture the rest of us about our constitution. Most of these lowlifes don’t even live in this country most of the time.

  • Daniel Maris

    When is someone going to tell Hacked Off to F*** Off? They aren’t part of the British Constitution – yet.

    • Wilhelm


  • Felix

    I do like how the caricature brings out the deep dark ugliness that is Isabel Hardman

  • The_greyhound

    I wonder what sanction the new Ministry of Truth will apply to the Spectator for failing to submit. Probably it’ll just not appear, and the captive press will fail to mention its demise.

    Zimbabwe. without the bananas.

    • Ron Todd

      More of a quango of truth.

      • The_greyhound

        Quango? so it’ll be run by a strangely dressed woman with a background in local government, a poor attendance record, no managerial or other skills and close ties to the Labour Party?

        I guess you’re right.

  • judyk113

    Who, us? HackedOff? How could anyone possibly think we had anything to do with it? Why, Max Mosley talking about needing to cut the wires in the internet was just talking about the interior decor arrangements for his latest one-way mirror room. How could anyone possibly believe that a bunch of nice quiet Labour activist and PR organizer chickens like us here in the HackedOff coop could have suggested nasty little ideas about gobbling up little bloggers? What, you’ve seen fox tails and teeth round our neck of the wood? No, no, those foxes are Tories. Tories. Nothing to do with us gentle, blogger-friendly free range Hacked Off chickens…….JK Rowling! Hugh Grant! The Dowlers! No those are not foxes’ teeth. They are HackedOff hens’ teeth. Entirely harmless….

  • Makroon

    Send in the burglar-inviting, park-rubbish-bin-stuffing-with-confidential-papers, clown that is Oliver Letwin, to negotiate on behalf of the Tories, and get a mess ….. who woulda thunk it ?

    The guy shouldn’t be allowed out unescorted.

    • Peter Martin

      Time to get Ed to call another secret meeting with him? This one, maybe, in the Hacked Off bathroom? With all of Hacked Off’s secret circle sitting the other side of a one-way mirror like X Factor judges, tweeting their thoughts to Harriet Harman and Nick Robinson to broadcast as ‘agreement’ real time via an (ironically) hacked BBC Weather account?

  • nick porter

    Well that proves Hacked Off didn’t have the final say

    • The_Missing_Think

      They did actually, you might not have noticed it – I saw it on The Surreal Politics Show – but Hugh Grant did that split himself up into 600 ‘mini 1 inch Hugh Grants’ thing, they then all ran about singing Isabel in the sky with Diamonds for a bit, and then voted it through Westminster.

      I can’t find it on You Tube though.

  • Archimedes

    It’s amazing the way Hacked Off has come out of this as supposedly the good guys. Let’s put things into perspective. They used Milly Dowlers parents to play politics and emotionally blackmail politicians into curtailing one of the most fundamental freedoms for their own purposes — which had nothing to do with preventing a reoccurrence of what happened to the Dowlers. At an ethical level, these people, like Hugh Grant, are guilty of an equally disgusting crime as that of the press.

    • anneallan

      Well said. Using bereaved parents as a cover for suppressing accounts of slebs’ sordid personal behaviour is plain sick.

      • Democritus

        But using bereaved parents to sell newspapers is ok?

        • anneallan

          What the NoW and Sun did was illegal. Apply the laws that already exist, not conjure up new ones that threaten 300 years of freedom of speech.

  • In2minds

    I think it was W.C. Fields who said “Never work with animals or children.”
    Not that he was worried about being arrested or offering advice to
    BBC disc jockeys, oh no!

    But perhaps the advice to the three main parties should be, ‘beware the
    celeb’. On the other hand perhaps they deserve each other?

    • Hugh

      Perhaps the advice to Cameron and Osborne would be: stop being thick and initiating things that are likely to do you no favours at all.

  • Vrai Telemachus

    These folks make me tired
    So now Guido can expose McBride but the telegraph cannot expose troughing

    • Smithersjones2013

      That data didn’t walk into the Telegraph offices on its won. Yet another example of Labour brushing questionable behaviour under the carpet. Its about all they did when they were in government. Cover things up!

      • Andy

        No ‘that data’ was stolen. Read what Levenson has to say on that.

  • Martin Blank

    I believe the phrase is ‘useful idiots’

    • kyalami


      • Andy

        no, Useless.