Matthew Steeples responds to the recommendations of Leveson
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” was one of Edmund Burke’s most famous observations.
Today, David Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson and ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks were in court to face charges of having conspired to pay Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan-Barber around £100,000 for information. How terribly convenient for our Prime Minister that this court appearance coincided with Lord Justice Leveson issuing his report into press standards.
In the inevitable media firestorm in the run up to today’s report being issued, one question has been missed and that question is: “Did we really need a £4 million inquiry to tell us that there are elements of the press that have done wrong and did we really need a 9-month inquiry to tell us that the Press Complaints Commission was a “toothless poodle”?
Inevitably, the media and politicians have reacted against many of Leveson’s suggestions and “victims” have suggested he should have gone further. The main suggestion made was that there should be a “new independent system of self-regulation underpinned by the law.” It’s hardly a revelation and it’s hardly a solution.
“Bad men and foreigners shouldn’t be allowed to run our press,” commented Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell of the report. He added: “[Media] ownership should be confined to British nationals.” This utterly ludicrous suggestion shows how out of touch certain politicians in this country are. We live in a global society in which the Internet allows information to be shared across transnational boundaries and as a result our media has to operate globally.
Our own audience is illustrative: 38% of our readers are based in the UK, but 31% are American. We have an ever-growing readership in Russia and China and receive countless comments from individuals in places as far apart as New Zealand and Finland. Though many may loathe him, the person whom Tapsell’s attack was directed at, Rupert Murdoch, is not a force for evil. He’s simply a tycoon who wishes to make money and get on with running his business. He should be left to do such and the media should be left to self-regulate.
Sir Christopher Meyer and Baroness Buscombe, appointed cronies who were put in place to regulate the media in the UK were responsible for the mess created at the PCC. They failed because they were busybodies with political agendas and they failed because they did not go the whole hog when it came to dealing with the bad apples. As a result, public trust disintegrated and the PCC will deservedly be scrapped.
The bad behavior of a small number of people should not destroy the free press as a cornerstone of our free society. Today is an illustration of a case where good men actually should do nothing.
To read Leveson’s report, go to: http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk