Coffee House

Sajid Javid’s first move as Culture Secretary has been to defend press freedom.

26 April 2014

26 April 2014

When Maria Miller was Culture Secretary, her aides kindly invited me to a consultation to give my thoughts about government’s involvement in press regulation. I declined, saying that there should be no involvement at all so there was not much to discuss.

It seems that her successor agrees. In an interview with The Times, his first since being appointed to the Cabinet, Sajid Javid has drawn a line under this sorry and deeply illiberal chapter in our country’s history.  This is his first serious move since taking the job as Culture, Media & Sport Secretary, and it’s very welcome. He tells The Times:

‘The press is hugely important and freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our democracy. I’m proud of the press . . . Notwithstanding the fact that any industry has its bad apples, I think our press is the best in the world. It is fearless without favour.’

The Press Complaints Commission, he told The Times, ‘wasn’t really working and something had to be changed’. But something has changed: the new regulatory, IPSO, will start within a few weeks. And Javid doesn’t seem to have a problem with that:

‘It is now a decision for the press what they want to do next. I don’t see any further role for government in this but the most important thing has got to be that the press is respected for the role they’ve played. Our country has benefited hugely over the ages from having a press that is vibrant and fearless.’

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He also adds that the Daily Telegraph was quite right to pursue his predecessor over over her expenses.

‘I think one of the important roles of the press is to hold public officials to account and Maria herself recognised that she made mistakes . .  . As long as they are presenting facts I think that is perfectly healthy.’

This is a welcome, em, clarification of the government’s position. The last update we had was my interview with the Prime Minister just before Christmas where he was pressing for the newspapers to do something: to swear fealty to ask ‘recognition’ from the Royal Charter set up by the politicians.

‘I believe there’s a great opportunity here to put this difficult and painful issue to bed. If the press set up their regulator I hope, in time, they will make that regulator compliant with – will be able to then seek recognition under – the charter recognition body. If that then happens, we’ll have in place a system that I think will settle this issue because we would have achieved what Leveson wanted which is independent self-regulation by the press, but not marking its own homework, having itself checked, and only having the body checked as it were by the charter.’

To Javid, it seems, the issue has already been ‘put to bed’. The government set up a club, looking for members. No one has joined. Oliver Letwin’s brain fart has finally cleared the room – and the idea of a Royal Charter has been put to one side. And, most importantly, the ancient freedom of the British press has been protected.

Oh, and a note to Liberal Democrats still wanting the state to oversee press regulation: have a look at guy in the picture at the very top of this blog. That is what a true liberal looks like.


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Show comments
  • James Allen

    On the subject of free speech, anyone picked up on the arrest of Paul Weston of Liberty GB for quoting Churchill in Winchester? Is there still genuinely free speech in the UK? – I think not.

  • cartimandua

    The presses idea of “press freedom” is media hacks get to spout their opinion and call it fact and truth.They consider invasive destruction of individuals just fine because they can sell it.
    They also don’t like it back at them and have said in public “we get to decide who may speak.”
    Freedom of speech … wouldn’t it be nice.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    What’s amusing is that the Speccie teenager is clamoring to sing the praises of his fav Cameroons, who have done absolutely nothing here. But their obedient lickspittle is quick to say that they have, and sing of the glories of that nothingness.

    Meanwhile, the socialist Camerluvvies wait for their chance to drive the wedge in hard, now that the thin edge is fitted-in proper.

    Nice work, lad. Over the years, you’ve helpfully squelched so many nettlesome discussions, what with Neathergate, the Rigby slaughter, and all the rest of your bubble-centric agitprop… you’re such a big help. The Cameroons will have a place for you soon, no doubt.

    And it is particularly amusing that you fancy yourself a civil libertarian. That cracks me up, lad. But be careful you don’t wrench your back, patting yourself.

  • Frank

    Has Oliver Letwin ever had a good idea?

  • cartimandua

    Well its only media luvvies permitted “free speech”. Ordinary mortals are not permitted it.

    • Fergus Pickering

      There seems to be a fair amount of free speech here. No one has come and carted off the viceroy’s gin to durance vile and the dreadful telemachis flourishes like the green bay tree. What do you want to say that you can’t?

      • cartimandua

        On the Guardian I used to defend womens rights against posters who literally supported the Taliban and their mates. On the Telegraph post people who are sycophantic about Iran and Russia.
        My Grandfather was a decorated war reporter.
        They did report facts but the default position was press being “on our side”. Now press merely enables enemies when we are at war (and the current youth bulge terrorist wars are a slow burning resource war) and they enable and laud competing nations.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …too much free speech for you socialists, then?

        • Fergus Pickering

          Not at all. Feel free. I am a Faragiste now. I don’t know if he has socialists in his merry band. I’m sure you could join too.

  • sarah_13

    I knew I liked him. Spot on about press freedom, and spot on about everything else I have heard him speak about so far.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Until Javid goes after the institutional Leftist, Progressive bias at the BBC and the continual violation of its own Royal Charter, I shan’t be getting too impressed.

    • sarah_13

      Give him some time.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        He’s had enough time. He should have issued a statement at the very least.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Oh God. Issued a statement? You cannot be serious.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, you socialists love your BBC, don’t you?

          • The Masked Marvel

            A warning shot across the bow is certainly in order. A co-founder of Hacked Off is the former executive editor of the BBC College of Journalism, and the PR man used to work on Today. Says it all, really.
            Never mind how much the BBC pushed the Leveson pantomime as if it was going to bring on the Rapture. It nearly did as well, what with the behind-closed-doors meeting between the Cameroons and Hacked Off. And oh, how certain BBC journalists preened in the aftermath. You should be grateful that they allowed this silly charter thingy to be
            voluntary in the end. All in the interests of destroying Murdoch and maintaining full control of the nation’s news agenda.

            • Fergus Pickering

              So all has gone well. Hacked off have fucked off. Win win all round for us.

  • The_Missing_Think

    Anyone who thinks the actors write the script and shout action!.. doesn’t understand anything about showbiz or politics.

  • Minnooli

    Excellent news. Bravo to the Speccie for showing some leadership on this issue – it’s a shame that the Guardian and Indy couldn’t have demonstrated a bit more backbone…

    • Andy

      Lets hope they both go bust very soon.

  • FrenchNewsonlin

    Well done for taking a very firm NO stand on Cameron’s Greatest Mistake Mr Nelson and let’s hope those among the British media that value and uphold free speech will now ensure Leveson/Whacked Off is buried for all time.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      They won’t be buried until this stain is taken off the books, and as the Speccie teenager knows quite well, it hasn’t been.

  • Mynydd

    All Mr Sajid Javid has said is, I want the press on side during the run up to the next general election, that’s nothing new. He his just like his boss, Mr Cameron, all talk no action. There will be no change to what

    • Fergus Pickering

      What do you want him to do? Nothing seems an excellent thing.

      • Mynydd

        That’s my point, he is doing nothing, and can do nothing on his own.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …he can speak, but instead he’s been put there to silence and be silent, apparently.

  • anyfool

    He has given you nothing, all he is doing is not taking what should never have been threatened, its called freedom of expression.

    That the press are useless at defending freedoms of others is a matter of regret, Fraser if the likes of your industry had stood as strong on some of the laws against free speech enacted by Labour when they were flavour of the moment, I think you would never have had witless idiots like Miliband, Clegg and that second rate actor governing your behaviour.
    The public have noticed that your closeness to politicians is not good for them, that is why you could not muster the ranks of public opinion to stand against these creatures.
    Hopefully they will not be a next time.

    • HookesLaw

      Nothing was threatened.

      • Wessex Man

        Hooky, the only joke is the not very bright poltical elite with their ‘friends’ Hacked Off trying to impose upon the Press regulations of which Hitler and Stalin would have been proud.

        This whole rotten system never surprises me anymore, lets hope that Sajid Javid stays true to his word and not be pushed around by Call me Dave and rabble into becoming one of them.

        • cartimandua

          What happens now is the press decide “who may speak” but the press may invade and destroy individuals any time they please.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Don’t look now, but they’re currently trying to destroy Farage and UKIP, and it doesn’t appear to be working .

            Not everybody is as dumb as these media muppets.

            • Wessex Man

              Ukip is the party to which I am a member anfd yes I know that they are regularly smearing us but would you rather have let the criminals in Westminster fiddle their expenses for ever more?

  • Hello

    Silly mistake on Javid’s part, he’s given far too much to the press. Is he really going to be taken seriously now?

  • James Allen

    Oliver Letwin and the other putative Press regulators can go f**k themselves, is all I have to say…

    • ianess

      Oliver Letwin has, consistently throughout his political career, proved himself to be an outstanding buffoon. How this walking banana skin has ever achieved high office makes one despair of the judgement of those who have appointed him.

      • Hello

        Huh? He devised a solution that was so complicated that no one could understand it, that made it very debatable, turned it into a shambles and then fell apart. You think that was a mistake? Has there been much political fallout from the way that the politicians have failed to regulate the press? No. So, he did a very good job.

        • FrenchNewsonlin

          Surely you ought to change your moniker?… Machievelli!

          • Hello

            I’d like to think so, but I’m just a humble observer with no tricks of my own.

            • ianess

              Machiavelli or Muppet? I’d be interested in your interpretation of his dumping secret documents in public bins.

        • James Allen

          No, they accepted that something “needed to be done”. And thus they have lost the early skirmishes of this battle. I find your complacency astonishing and frightening.

  • allymax bruce

    The Press in the Western world, must never be ‘free’; it is now owned by a Zionist conglomerate, that want to impinge, nae, usurp the Democratically elected process of National governments.
    The content of the Press are specifically designed for brainwashing the Public, thus, the Press are not ‘free’ themselves, (they have a political agenda), and us, the Public, must never, NEVER allow the Press to become the Fifth Column they are attempting to become.

    STOP the PRESS !

    • Alexsandr

      why worry? the dead tree press is in its death throes.circulations are falling off a cliff, and i think the indy and the guardians days are numbered. And Leveson was too ignorant of how the internet works to think how to regulate that (good) Lets just forget it.,

    • Tony_E

      Don’t worry, when Scotland is independent I’m sure you’ll get your new utopian government to create their own Pravda and put an end to the Zionist’s horrible plans of domination!

    • saffrin

      I have to agree the national press and many media outlets, including TV programing of all kinds, is more about opinion forming thought control than it is about information giving, who controls them however is beyond me.
      Read, look, learn and listen between the lies is my advice.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and don’t pay the BBC. They are illegitimate.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Good God! I have found myself agreeing with you TWICE. Bottom, thou art translated.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …I better rethink matters…

    • Minnooli

      What is it with paranoid loons and the misuse of capital letters?

    • Kitty MLB

      No, Ally, the press must always be free, they are the voice
      of the public. Who otherwise would be ignores.
      Besides we hear nothing but rubbish from the BBC.
      He needs to reform them also.

    • Wessex Man

      If only we could find some way of shutting up the inmates of the Lunatic asylum like you.

  • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

    I’ve not known a great deal about this Javid chap. From what I read, he sounds like an excellent man to have around the place! And a welcome replacement for that dreadful Miller woman.

    Weren’t the Guardian and the Independent all in favour of Leveson? Why haven’t they signed up to the Royal Charter?

    • Inverted Meniscus

      It’s called hypocrisy.

      • Ian Walker

        Well they subscribe to hypocrisy’s meaner, nastier cousin – socialism.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Agreed. Socialism the synonym for fascism.

  • Blindsideflanker

    I wondered if Danny Alexander had taken over Javid’s job as culture Minister, that or it was a insult to Javid for him to announce minority status for Cornwall.

    Or may be the Culture department is now a subsidiary department of the Treasury.

    • Hello

      Javid is just a pawn in George Osborne’s media strategy. The way it works is that he tips off the press on the “ones to watch”, the press get to be visionary saying things like “Javid will go far”, then he promotes them, creating a positive feedback loop where the press investment in the treasury, and George Osborne, is too high for him ever to be hounded by the press.

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