Parliament and independent press regulation – a chronology of ducks.

If you are interested in press reform, the chronology of events below should tell you how previous politicians have ducked their responsibility to act. When Leveson reports on Thursday, it will be up to you to convince your local MP that they should have the courage to finally deal with this issue. So why not consider joining the campaign for a free and accountable press? They’re called Hacked Off and they need your help and support.

1953 Four years after a Royal Commission told the press to start regulating itself, nothing had been done. It took the threat of legislation – a broadly-supported Private Member’s Bill from C.J. Simmons MP – to make them create the General Council of the Press. Withdrawing the Bill, a sceptical Simmons warned: ‘I give warning here and now that if it [the Council] fails, some of us again will have to come forward with a measure similar to this bill.’

1962 A second Royal Commission told the press it had to make self-regulation effective, but again warned of legislation: ‘We think that the Press should be given another opportunity itself voluntarily to establish an authoritative General Council . . . We recommend, however, that the government should specify a time limit after which legislation would be introduced.‘

1977 The third Royal Commission on the Press urged radical changes to the Press Council, which was found to lack independence and credibility, and said that if nothing was done Parliament should act. The report said: ‘We recommend that the press should be given one final chance to prove that voluntary self-regulation can be made to work.’

1990 The Calcutt Committee on Privacy was a response to Hillsborough, the grossly intrusive reporting of the death of TV presenter Russell Harty and an accident suffered by actor Gorden Kaye. David Mellor, then a Home Office minister, had said: ‘I do believe the press – the popular press – is drinking in the last chance saloon.’ Calcutt recommended the establishment of an effective Press Complaints Commission and newspapers were given a ‘year of grace’ to make this work. Home Secretary, David Waddingston, told the Commons: ‘This is positively the last chance for the industry to establish an effective non-statutory system of regulation.’

1993 The Calcutt Review concluded that the PCC was ‘not… an effective regulator of the press’. It recommended a Press Complaints Tribunal backed by statute. A Major government with a slender majority failed to implement this.

2011 In the Commons in July 2011, speaking after the revelation that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, David Cameron said: ‘I accept we can’t say it’s the last chance saloon all over again. We’ve done that.’

Hacked Off is working hard on behalf of the many ordinary victims and the public, of whom 78 per cent support independent press regulation, to ensure that their voices are not drowned out by the press. We are about to be steamrolled by one of the most powerful lobbying operations in parliamentary history. Please play your part in stopping it.

7 comments ↓

#1 Peter Beswick on 11.26.12 at 12:35 pm

Regulation isn’t the issue! The people controlling the MSM also control Labour and Tories, the whips control the MP’s and the MP’s keep silent when they are told to.

That’s what normally happens but brave Mr Watson imperilled his safety by bucking the trend and broke the perverts in parliament strory. The MSM had buried this story.

The MSM buried Hillsborough, Savile, Jean Charles de Menezes, Blair’s BAE deals, cash for honours, dodgy expenses and oh yes the dodgy dossier.

Today there is overwhelming evidence that the Iraq invasion was unnecessary, illegal and based on fabricated intelligence. And the person who died at the centre of that scandal Dr David Kelly has had the truth of his death covered up ever since.

The police covered up the facts regarding Dr Kelly’s death, MP’s have the evidence, the MSM have the evidence but all are too scared to tell the truth.

Overwhelming evidence exists that 3rd party activity took place at the scene where Dr Kelly’s body was discovered, this was hidden by the police, ignored by Lord Hutton and Dominic Grieve and abandoned by the press and Parliament.

We cannot expect an honest and regulated press when our Parliament is so mired in mendacity.

#2 A Calder on 11.26.12 at 4:55 pm

My father was libelled in 1975. Ordinary guy with no money. When he denied allegations paper challenged him to sue them. The money was raised and three years later,4 days before case in High court the paper settled unreservedly.
Some time later my father met the journalist who had written the story. The journalist apologised but said that when he realised his error he was instructed by his editor to say nothing and leave the matter to the papers lawyers. They in turn had hoped that my father would not raise the funds to go to court.
The damage to family was immense. The editor should have been jailed. Not to mention his lawyer.

#3 Josie on 11.26.12 at 8:02 pm

Hacked off is part of common purpose, have you lookd into this group before you recommend we support then Tom ?

#4 Rev Graeme Hancocks on 11.26.12 at 8:30 pm

Quite. My bet would be “lets give the press one last chance – again – to put their house in order”. The press in the UK have proven again and again that they are not capable of doing so.

#5 The Chamberlain Files on 11.28.12 at 12:20 pm

[...] press is already in the last chance saloon. There’s not another bar to try out. Tom Watson highlights the catalogue of episodes that pre-dates this, the latest and surely last, time Government or [...]

#6 Brian Hughes on 12.01.12 at 8:43 pm

What do other countries like ours do?

It must be possible to find best practice from the likes of France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Australia etc with comparable economies and populations. (NB Scandinavian comparisons are generally not much help – their populations are too small).

And is there any validity in William Hague’s assertion that legislating on this topic would make it harder for Britain to bang the freedom of speech drum to other countries?

#7 runnerbeen on 12.14.12 at 7:50 pm

The REAL question, as I understand it, is NOT how do we regulate the current MSM. The PERTINENT question is how are we going FREE the MSM to report the truth? How are we going to remove the constraints that are used to hide the truth. Currently, with a few notable exceptions, the existing journalists appear to be sycophants, sucking up to their masters warped agenda and an utter disgrace to their chosen profession. They appear to have no backbone and dutifully trot out pathetic transparent propaganda. They publish what they are told. They need to be freed to investigate the facts, question and challenge and ultimately publish the truth, no matter where it leads.

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