Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Ed M calls for post-hacking inquiry into the press

The Guardian has an exclusive interview with the Labour leader, whose support for an investigation is a significant and welcome move, couched in very sensible and moderate terms.

"I think there does need to be a review after the police inquiries have been completed and any criminal cases that flow from it.

"I think it is in the interests of protecting the reputation of the British press that these matters should not simply be left to rest, and lessons have to be learned."

"The press itself will want to look at how self-regulation can be made to work better because it clearly did not work very well in relation to these issues here."

What happened was very bad, and it is right to say that, but there are very good traditions in our press, and they have to be maintained, but we have to get rid of the bad ones, and we have to find a way of doing that."

"My strong instincts are that we do not want governmental regulation of these issues, but I don't think the Press Complaints Commission has covered itself in glory."

It would be good to hear major newspapers debate the merits of this in their pages. If they could now open up this debate, they would have a good opportunity to set out how such an inquiry might operate so that it could learn the lessons without any threat to press freedom. If there is continues to be silence, or a very muted debate, from much of the press, then parliamentarians and others are more likely to shape the debate.

Next Left has argued that establishing an effective and independent investigation into the issue will need broad cross-party and civic support, and it is to be hoped that there will now be similar calls from senior backbenchers from the governing parties and opposition.

Former Tory party chairman Sir Norman Fowler has called for a judge-led inquiry, as have senior commentators, such as Brian Cathcart.

LibDem ministers will also be sympathetic - and may well be able to find a way to express that, even if the government does not take a position, though it would help if there were Tory as well as LibDem backbenchers.

Current Prime Minister David Cameron today indicated that he would not want to see his Labour predecessor Gordon Brown nominated to head the IMF, despite support from other European governments.

Labour should be more open-minded on the issue of learning the lessons for the press, and promote the case of former Tory PM John Major as a man of integrity and independence who could look into the issues without fear or favour.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Over 50,000 Avaaz and 38 Degrees members have signed a petition calling on the government to delay a decision on the News Corp takeover of BSkyB until a full and proper investigation of the hacking has taken place. See: http://www.avaaz.org/en/murdoch_hacked_off/?press