Today in Parliament, press regulation was top of the agenda. The government secured a Commons victory overturning a Lords amendment to effectively implement section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, a Leveson recommendation. The Lords passed the amendment — as part of the investigatory powers bill — last month for victims of hacking by newspapers to be protected from paying the costs of bringing their claims in the civil courts. This afternoon it was overturned — despite Labour’s best efforts to keep it — with a majority of 37, defeated by 298 votes to 261.
The result comes after Bradley was accused of a ‘cover-up of a cover-up’ over Leveson this morning. In statement to the Commons about press regulation, the Culture Secretary announced that the government is considering shelving the follow-up Leveson inquiry to investigate corrupt dealings between the press and police. While Bradley promised a consultation before coming to a final decision, this did little to appease Labour — with Tom Watson, backed by Ed Miliband, accusing her of ‘announcing a consultation on whether the cover-up should be covered up’.
However, while Labour continue to find grievance with Bradley’s announcement, whether a second inquiry is necessary is a question that needs asking. On top of the near £50million cost of the first inquiry, it’s notable that with Sun reporter Anthony France winning an appeal against his conviction last month, Operation Elveden – the £20million police investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police officers – led to not a single conviction of journalists. Rather than a second inquiry, what may be required is an inquiry into why so much public money is being wasted on these prosecutions.