12 October 2011

LEVESON INQUIRY - Day 2 - Seminar 2

Coverage of Day 1 to be found here.

Leveson Inquiry panel (for details see Day 1 Leveson Inquiry post)

Seminar 2 - Approaches to regulation - a supporting free press and high standards

Contributors today include Paul Dacre - Daily Mail, Kelvin MacKenzie - former Sun Editor, Sly Bailey - Trinity Mirror, Will Moy - Director of Full Fact

Also follow #leveson on Twitter for frequent updates by attendees and commentators.

Paul Dacre, Daily Mail
BBC News - Video -  Phone-hacking: Daily Mail's Paul Dacre Defends PCC

BBC News - Video - Paul Dacre Rails Against Regulation

On Dacre by Guardian Live blog:
'Some more gems from Paul Dacre's speech.
"I unequivocally condemn phone hacking ... such practices are a disgrace and need to be purged from journalism." The revelations about the activities at the News of the World "shocked and shamed up all," he said, and reforms need to be instigated "to prevent such criminal activities ever happening again".
But Dacre urges the inquiry and the public to keep the phone-hacking scandal in perspective.
"Britain's cities weren't looted as a result; banks didn't collapse as a result ... the nation didn't go to war, yet the response has been a judicial inquiry with greater powers than those possessed by the public inquiries into the Iraq war."
"Am I alone in detecting the rank smells of hypocrisy and revenge?" he asked in relation to David Cameron's motives for setting up the inquiry.'
Full Text Paul Dacre's Speech - Guardian
Guardian Audio of Paul Dacre's speech here. 

Reaction - October 13th

Stephen Hill, former CEO Financial Times
 Guardian Live blog on Stephen Hill:
 "He is making some interesting points about corporate governance - it it is to work all newspapers need to pull together and ensure no-one falls out of line.
"If one competitor is assiduous and the other is not, then over time one may be disadvantaged and be tempted to change [its behaviour]," he says.
"The key element of corporate government is consistency and transparency
"If we are to review ethical standards, we need to sure the standards are common to all participants,"
Hill also gives some valuable insight into the workings of TV regulation - he spent six years on Channel 4 board
The code of conduct for TV producers "is not enough" on its own, experience shows. "What really matters are the policy and procedures that each company creates to ensure compliance."
Channel 4, for example, produces a handbook distributed to 3,000 independent producers; it also holds masterclasses for its suppliers to ensure they are aware of the laws and procedures."
Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror
Bailey from Guardian Live blog:

" Sky (sic) Bailey says the risk system at Trinity Mirror works well.
"In the hundreds of thousands of stories that Trinity Mirror publishes every year, we make very few mistakes," she told the Leveson seminar. "
"Bailey revealed that the company's recent review of editorial controls and procedures found that its internal controls were "robust". She didn't give many details, but said some areas however, would be strengthened as a result of the review across Trinity's 165 newspapers and 500 websites.
"These include training, legal oversight, expectations of third party suppliers and digital controls."
"Proper processes lead to proper behaviour and need not limit creativity," were her concluding words."

Full Speech from Will Moy of Full Fact 

"It’s not just newspapers. Individual journalists can be excellent too. Journalists from both the Guardian and the Daily Mail have replied to correction requests, explained problems and arranged corrections. Both blamed sub-editors for the inaccuracies.
Unfortunately these are exceptional examples. What usually happens is that there is no specific contact for dealing with corrections, we cannot contact the journalist or we get no reply, we get no reply from the newspaper using any contact we can find, so we give up and go to the PCC."
"What do we conclude from this? Some journalists really care about the standards in the Code. They work at all kinds of papers and they would probably care about those same standards whether the Code existed or not. Some newspapers really care about the Code too. Overall, though, newspapers cannot be trusted to regulate themselves and that is why a regulator is essential."
2.22 p.m. Lisa O'Carroll, Guardian writes:
"Welcome back. Paul Dacre's speech was the talk of lunch and it will be a tough act, even for Kelvin MacKenzie to follow.I was talking to George Brock, former managing editor of the Times, during the break. What was brilliant about Dacre's speech, Brock said, was that it was full of noise and bangs, but when the smoke cleared there were two amazing concessions - an acceptance that a system that including financial penalties for errant newspapers might work and an acceptance that the PCC wasn't perfect and could be improved.
The latter point is very significant, given that Dacre has been such a champion of the PCC in the past. The new system of co-regulation Dacre is proposing - and we have his full speech now to allow us absorb what he said in full - would include an Ombudsman which have the power to summon editors and journalists and impose fines"
Live blog from the Guardian continued - here.

Kelvin MacKenzie, formerly of the Sun, now Daily Mail
Kelvin MacKenzie's speech from Evening Standard: 

BBC News - Kelvin MacKenzie Video of Speech

"This is the way in which our Prime Minister is hopeful he can escape his own personal lack of judgment. He knows, and Andy knows, that he should never have been hired into the heart of government. I don't blame Andy for taking the job. I do blame Cameron for offering it.
It was clearly a gesture of political friendship aimed over Andy's head to Rupert Murdoch. If it wasn't that then Cameron is a bloody idiot. A couple of phone calls from Central Office people would have told him that there was a bad smell hanging around the News of the World."
"The point of my anecdotes is to show that this inquiry should decide there is nothing wrong with the press, that we should enshrine free speech in Cameron's planned Bill of Rights and accept the scandal was simply a moment in time when low-grade criminality took over a newspaper.
If anything, the only recommendation that should be put forward by Leveson is one banning by law over- ambitious and under-talented politicians from giving house room to proprietors who are seeking commercial gain from their contacts. In tabloid terms, arse kissing will be illegal. Should have an interesting passage through Parliament
Do that and you will have my blessing - and I suspect the blessing from Rupert Murdoch, too."

Ben Fenton