Search

David Aaronovitch and Kathy Lette weigh in on Leveson Inquiry

07:06 07 December 2012

ljcc

ljcc

Archant

Everyone from outspoken writers to local councillors in Hampstead and Highgate have weighed in with their opinion on the Leveson Inquiry as the investigation into media ethics eclipses the headli

Still hot off the press, national and local newspapers are formulating their stance on the recommendation to have press regulation underpinned by statute.

If the proposals go forward, they would create the first press laws in the UK since the 17th century.

Reactions have varied from claims about the death of the free press to applause from victims of media abuse.

However, with hundreds of pages of the 2,000-page report devoted to privacy intrusions practiced by some national newspapers, Lord Justice Leveson also pointed out the comparatively clean reputation of regional and local newspapers.

He said: “Although accuracy and similar complaints are made against local newspapers, the criticisms of culture, practices and ethics of the press that have been raised in this inquiry do not affect them – on the contrary, they have been much praised.”

But any new regulation will be extended across the entire press, though the finer details of how local papers will be dealt with versus national papers is yet to be established.

The Times columnist David Aaronovitch, who lives in Hampstead, said: “Unfortunately, we’re all involved, whether we’re implicated in it or not.

“The last time I harassed a celebrity was never.

“I think that Leveson is trying to deal with things that are not illegal and good ethics, and it’s that gap that we’re talking about and whether you need regulations to deal with the gap.”

Mr Aaronovitch instead pointed to the sway local newspapers can hold over a community.

Speaking of a series of articles about parking enforcement that ran in the Ham&High in 2006, he said: “Tom Conti was running the campaign and helped make the issue of parking wardens a big issue in council elections, and Labour were tossed out of a good council, when in fact, there were many more important issues.”

He added: “I might be more concerned about journalistic tendencies to do that than I would be about whether to doorstep Ricky Gervais.”

Leader of Camden Council, Cllr Sarah Hayward, said fines and punishment levied by any press regulating body should be proportionate.

“If there’s something on the front page of The Sun that is untrue, its impact is far greater.

“I wouldn’t expect local papers to have to see that level of fine,” she said.

She also spoke of the need for local papers to strike a balance in who they choose to cover.

The English Collective of Prostitutes, a group based in Kentish Town which campaigns for the abolition of prostitution laws, said its own complaints about intrusion by press photographers in the past have fallen on deaf ears.

Spokeswoman, Cari Mitchell, said: “What guarantee is there that an independent board will be any more responsive to the public’s complaints?”

Head of the Newspaper Society, Adrian Jeakings, who is also chief executive of Archant, publisher of the Ham&High, said regional and local papers in Britain have always been “vehemently opposed to any form of statutory involvement in the regulation of the press”.

He said: “This would impose an unacceptable regulatory burden on the industry, potentially inhibiting freedom of speech and the freedom to publish.”

Outspoken author Kathy Lette, who lives in the area took a more humorous approach to the report, which has dominated the headlines, for over a week.

“I am going to sue Rupert Murdoch because my phone wasn’t tapped.

“What a loss of reputation!

“And also, the hours I wasted being witty and erudite on the phone, just in case I was being taped.

“I bon mot-ed for Britain. And all for nothing!”

Taking on a more serious note, the author who most recently wrote the best-seller, The Boy Who Fell to Earth said: “The thing about ‘freedom of speech’ is that it’s very expensive.

“What I’d like to change are the libel laws, so that it’s easier to tell the truth without the terror of being sued.”

She added: “Local papers are a vital voice for communities. To silence them would be a tragedy.”

0 comments

Latest News Stories

Sunday, May 24, 2015
Latest plans to redevelop Mansfield Bowling Club went on show on Monday. Picture: Generator Group

The quango in charge of English sport has objected to a controversial scheme to build housing on a historic bowling green.

Saturday, May 23, 2015
Teenagers were attacked on Parliament Hill (Pic credit: PA)

Young teenagers at a birthday gathering on Hampstead Heath were stabbed and bottled by a gang of older youths who robbed them of mobile phones and cash.

Friday, May 22, 2015
Hugo Duggan, pictured in 2010 during the family's Justice For Jeremiah campaign. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The father of a Golders Green student who died in Germany in 2003 after becoming involved with a far-right cult has finally opened a birthday card sent from his son just before his death.

Friday, May 22, 2015
Brookfield Park Surgery will move to Highgate

Two doctors have applied to turn their GP surgery into flats ahead of the practice’s move to Highgate.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

The latest North London property news and features straight into your inbox.

Other Emails:
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Time to experience the dizzy heights of London's tallest attraction!

Morgan Pryce, commercial property experts based in London are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Shard viewing platform in the city itself.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder