Brian Leveson has no opinions on press regulation, apparently. It just took him three hours to repeat this to MPs, over and over again, peppering his increasingly exasperated answers with ‘with respect’, when he appeared before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee this morning. Leveson did his upmost to get through the whole session without tilting one way or another on his inquiry, report or recommendations. But there were a few hints of what he actually thinks.
Firstly, Leveson is keen for some progress, particularly from the newspapers themselves. ‘I would be sorry if my recommendations were lost’, he said, adding:
‘I have said… in discussions I had with editors and others: This is your problem, not mine – it’s got to work for you.
‘But it’s got to work for the public as well. It’s got to work for those who, legitimately in my judgment, feel they have been abused by the press.”
But he stayed as ambivalent as possible on the cross-party plans to ram through a Royal Charter. ‘I did not think of it. What’s more, nobody suggested it’. But when it comes to his own thoughts, Leveson is still proud of what he’s done. He told the committee ‘it was the hardest I’ve ever worked to get this [report] done’ and ‘I promise you I have done my very best’. Two gold stars for Brian!
The Lord Justice was on the look out for some love as he hit back at David Cameron’s line that he would implement the Leveson report provided it wasn’t ‘bonkers’, by telling one inquisitor ‘the answer is in my report, which I hope is not bonkers’. But the overall impression Leveson gave was that he’s done the inquiry, produced the report and that’s him done. Sitting in front of this committee seemed beneath him.
Who decides what happens next? Leveson admitted it’s probably, most likely down to MPs. ‘I don’t think that the press have a veto in one sense. It is for you to decide how you believe the way forward should be’. But of course, it’s nothing to do with him; he has ‘not been informed’ of what is happening next with his proposal.
So, that’s the sum total of a few hours with Brian Leveson. His remarks will probably have no impact on the standoff between the press and politicians he has caused. Regrets? He’s got a few. ‘There are some typos’, Leveson admitted. ‘I regret that’. He summed up his appearance by telling the committee ‘with the greatest of respect I’m not saying anything’. I’m sure they’re delighted to have taken half a day to hear that.Tags: Leveson inquiry, Lord Leveson, Press regulation, UK politics