Decision to ditch Leveson part two is a ‘knife to the heart’ of victims
It was also announced the Government will not put into effect a controversial measure for media organisations to sign up to a state-backed regulator.
The decision to abandon the second part of the Leveson Inquiry is a “knife to the heart” of phone hacking victims, a Labour MP has said.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that reopening the “costly and time-consuming” inquiry – which reported on press regulation and ethics in 2012 – was not “the right way forward”.
The second part of the inquiry would have looked into unlawful conduct within media organisations as well as relations between police and the press.
Chris Bryant, who was himself a victim of phone hacking, asked Mr Hancock why the Government had made pledges on press regulation if they were never to be followed through.
He said: “Having spent many hours with the Dowler family and with Christopher Jefferies and with many others can I just say on behalf of all of the victims that many of us will feel that the Secretary State has just shoved another little knife in our heart.
“In all honesty we had hoped that the promises were real promises, real promises that we would get to the truth.”
He added: “We should no longer be cowed by press barons, we should be able to do what is right for society, so I simply ask if everything he has said today is true why on earth did the Government make all those promises in the past and why did he vote for the legislation?”
#Leveson2 ditched by government. Predictable, spineless and a total betrayal of every promise made to victims of phone-hacking.— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) March 1, 2018
Mr Hancock the “world had changed since 2011”, adding: “Of course there were abuses that were looked into in the inquiry and they’ve been looked into by the police in three investigations with over 40 criminal convictions since.”
Later in the debate, Labour MP Julie Eliiot (Sunderland Central) also slammed the decision, saying there was nothing for victims of press intrusion in his statement.
She added: “What does the Secretary of State say to the Dowler and Hillsborough families and other victims? There is nothing in this.”
Mr Hancock again told MPs that victims had been considered, but the decision had to be made in “wider context” of “today’s challenges”.
A number of Tory MPs spoke in favour of the statement, with former culture secretary John Whittingdale leading the charge.
He said: “Now more than ever newspapers play a vital role in holding both Government and opposition to account.
“He is absolutely right that rather than looking backwards at the events of 10 years ago and adding to the costs of local newspapers we should be supporting newspapers in meeting the challenges of the internet giants.”
Fellow Tory MP Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) added: “Local press and national press have a critical role in holding politicians and the powerful to account.
“Any form of state regulation is highly undesirable in a democratic society.”
Conservative Sir Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk) added: “I also welcome the Secretary of State’s statement and particular what he said about section 40, I also agree with what he said about local press which are the life blood of our communities”.