9 July 2012

Leveson Inquiry - Module 4 - Day 1 - Lord Hunt, Lord Black

Lord Justice Leveson

Module 4: Recommendations for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards.

Useful Links:
Leveson Inquiry Witness Statements HERE 
Leveson Inquiry Witness Lists HERE 

Video Recordings of each day's proceedings HERE

Live Feed From Leveson Inquiry Site HERE
Guardian Live Blog HERE
Links to comment and information relevant to the Leveson Inquiry 
( Filtered Google newsfeed in sidebar to the right of this post >>> ):
@benfenton, 10:12 a.m. :
#leveson is making a Module 4 opening statement,saying he'll make detailed study of "new PCC" model being put forward by Lords Black & Hunt. #leveson says he will also be considering state of data protection laws and the financial situation affecting the press.
#leveson says he will also be hearing from ethics profs.Sue Akers will return to provide hacking/corruption update [story alert, eventually]
#leveson says he needs to know not the details, but the broad range of the Met police investigation into hacking and corruption.
#leveson wants to hear more about the state of competition law and plurality [diversity of voices in the media] affecting the UK press.
#leveson: core participant lawyers will not be making closing submissions[sighs of relief in press room]He wants cops to update in autumn.

From Guardian Live Blog 12:08 p.m. :
Former No 10 spin chief Alastair Campbell has just tweeted:
Lord Black: trust us, we’re editors and proprietors - a comment by for


Appearing today:
Lord Black

    Guardian Live Blog HERE
    Lord Black begins his testimony..
    Here's proposals in full for new press regulator : [PDF] and the draft contract: [PDF]
    [You can read Lord Black's previous evidence to #Leveson here: ]
    After giving evidence to #Leveson in February, Lord Black and Lord Hunt undertook further consultation across the industry. The vast bulk of the industry is opposed to statutory underpinning, that's the flavour of responses I've heard. Black: System we're proposing is extremely tough and robust. I think it goes further than a statutory system could.Black: Self-regulation is the guarantor of press freedom and preventing interference from state control.

    Black objects to statute on grounds of practicality. Breathtaking speed of change in the media industry - statute couldn't keep up. "There is the question of whether publishers who are very committed to self-regulation would challenge whole basis of statutory system." Black also suggests that a statutory based system would be open to legal challenge all the time. Also difficult to get through Parliament. [Important point raised:Will the press legally challenge a system #leveson suggests if he goes down statutory-underpinning route?] [To me, that sounds like a warning, if not a threat, that the press is ready to fight against anything other than their own answer]

    Lord Black of PCC's funding body arguing press shd still regulate selves, but this cd be "muscular" & "robust"
    Black says publishers "may decide" challenge the statute that sets up the "underpinning". Likely to become a target to be aimed.
    "...rather than a framework within which to be worked for the benefit of both the public and the public interest."[again, is that a threat?]
    Black says he believes every paper will sign up to the contract on which PCC II is based. Including the Express Group.

    Desmond part of the black consultation process - black says he has a statement of support from his company.
    Black warns a new press regulator backed by law wd be a "target" to be aimed at & legally challenged by press.
    [Black is an impressive witness who understands, the law, parliament and the press. He is someone who #leveson will take seriously]
    Jay is now asking whether or not media interests have said they will sign up or just waiting to see final conditions? Black: Both. Black says he wd be v happy if #leveson told him to go away&prepare a detailed contract for publishers to sign. Wd be sign of real progress. Jay asks if, in principle, anything in the draft contract Black has offered to #leveson could be changed. B:Maybe, but wdn't expect it.
    [If a statutory body could be changed by govt in an oppressive way,the press cd surely defy it and,if it had democratic support, would win?]
    Black says cost a gt deal to get so far,but he has to be "prudent in management of those costs".Asks again for a "commission" from

    Black says he will press on with pcc reform today if Leveson gives him the green light . Key moment here.
    Jay asks Lord Black if he has read Media Standards Trust report. Black says he has looked at the main recommendations. Black: Agree with Media Standards Trust this is a golden opportunity but I think the industry has gone a long way to fulfilling it. Black: Don't believe the PCC could ever have tried to exercise power to fine without sort of contractual basis we're now proposing.
    Black says #leveson inquiry has already fulfilled opportunity of shining light on press and its practices.
    Black says PCC II is not son of PCC but a completely fresh start because it wd have power to fine,robust power of monitoring&enforcement. Black denies that PressBoF is now just saying the same things it said last time there was an inquiry into press [1990-93]
    Now it is not just regulation but something with all the tools of regulation. Jay now asking about how regulation affects press freedom.  Jay:Why can't we have a statutory scheme that defines and limits extent to which regulator can impinge on press freedom?
    [Jay is making point that the new PCC would impinge on press freedom too, so why does it have to be industry-run?Why not parliament?]

    Black: There is fundemental objection I have in allowing state to write the rules of a regulator that governs editorial content. Black: A statutory system would just be simply opening the door into government involvement.

    Jay says a statutory system can impose exactly same limits.Black says that it opens the door to Parliament. #leveson says:different point. #leveson says there is no difference in principle between the extent of the regulation proposed whether statute or nor. Black says philosophical objection to statute remained. Argued moves on a little bit to what the public interest is in state intervention.
    Jay:Is it fair to say inudstry has taken no steps to understand public expectation of press standards? Black: No.
    Black says new structure will have considerable public input.Jay is saying editors will still have dominant role.
    Black says that they will take public soundings of what people want from regulation. Says has been great sounding board.
    Jay forces Black to admit that the Code Cttee will be 5:12 ratio of non-journos to editors. Other parts wd see editors in minority.
    Black says he does not think papers would accept a code committee that had minority of editors."Always been view that editors must write it"

    Black defending majority of serving editors on code committee. #Leveson asks why they should have the pen to write it.
    [For first, but not last time, I will urge people not to read too much into way Jay/Leveson question witnesses.It's how appeal courts work]
    [This is how appeal courts test strength of evidence.Doesn't mean sceptical or supportive.Reporters often caught out guessing judge's minds]

    Black says system could work on 12-month rolling cycle after five-year term has ended, or could re-enter for another five years. Black: If there are significant incentives to remain in the system, every reason for publishers to sign into further five years. Black refers to his proposal as "independently-led self-regulation".

    Jay is asking about terms of the contract underpinning PCC II.Says at the end of first 5-years the participants could weaken it. Black says he can't see a situation where that wd happen.But concedes he can't say it wouldn't.But it is opportunity also for public debate. Black:PCC II is "indpendently-led self-regulation"[#leveson repeats the words as he laboriously writes it phrase down. Lawyers like phrases] Black says "statutory underpinning is a term of art for a form of statutory control. I don't believe there is a halfway house between them."

    From Guardian Live Blog:
    The PressBof chairman is adamant that editors must write the new code because of the pace of change in the industy. Those who are at the cutting edge of news must have heavy involvement in writing this "living document", Black says.
    Leveson suggests editors have a large amount of self-interest in writing the code.
    Black counters that editors have self-interest in making the code work.
    Jay asks if editors have "emotional buy-in" to the code.
    "Intellectual buy-in," Black replies.
    Jay moves on.
    Leveson asks Black whether he describes his new system as an independent regulator or a self-regulator.
    "Independently-led self regulation," Black says, to some stifled laughter in the courtroom.
    Black: Number of different ways investigations arm of regulator could be engaged - systemic problem, serious breaches etc.
    Black's proposal shows Trust Board with complaints committee, compliance and investigations panel and arbitral arm.

    Black says serving editors need to be on complaints committee because it is easy to get out of date quickly. Jay says there wd be issue of public perception of lack of independence from having 5 working editors out of 13 cttee members.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Jay turns to the details of the proposed press regulator.
    Evidence of a systemic breakdown or an issue of criminal or civil law would trigger the new regulator's investigatory powers, Black says.
    A trust board will be chaired by someone from outside the press and the press representatives will not be serving editors, he says.
    Five working editors will also sit on this trust board.
    Black says serving editors also need to sit on the code committee as they are overseeing a living document that must keep up to date with changes in the industry.
    Black points out there is a majority of lay members.Might include a digital editor. [You mean there's a distinction?]
    Black: Envisaged Trust Board would maintain a pool of experts, could create bespoke panel for compliance and investigations arm. 
    Jay to black - libel tribunal would need statute - so why not use statute to support pcc? Black says this is an exception. Cagy first session at Leveson. Black holding up fairly well but jay picking at 'independence' of new pcc & Leveson sounding underwhelmed.

    #Leveson: Are you suggesting those who might be thinking about regulatory systems don't consider free press of fundamental importance?
    Jay and leveson not impressed with Lord Black methinks. So, no public consultation? editors will outnumber lay members on new PCC?

    From Guardian Live Blog:
    The new regulator will conduct an annual compliance report of newspapers. The trust board will then review and publish the report.
     Issues at the cutting-edge of ethical standards will involve a high level of discussion, Black says.
    "It needs to be judged in relation to the entity concerned," he says, adding that it may not be necessary for the regulator to visit and admonish a small, local trader.
    Black: Will be a number of sanctions available to investigations arm but at the top of the tree will be the power to levy a fine.
    Black: View has been formed across the industry for many years that issue of conciliation much more important than compensation.  Black: Conciliation arm angle will provide speedy and effective remedies. Compensation angle much more complicated.
    Black: Need to make sure the terms of the contract allow them flexibility on libel proceedings, etc.
    Black: Expect regulator would take a different view on complaints running simultaneously with legal action [unlike PCC].
    Black: Where enforcement action needs to be taken, regulator must have access to funds, put in seperate funding stream for that.
    Black: If we're successful at renewing internal governance, papers dealing with more complaints internally, body costs will reduce.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Publishers and editors will have more responsibility to deal with complaints before they reach this new regulator, says Black.
    successor to Pressbof, which funds the PCC, will be the Industry Funding Body (IFB), says Black.
    He says an investigationwill be automatically triggered if a newspaper loses a court case.
    The budget for the PCC is currently £1.95m, but the new body is expected to have an annual budget of £2.25m, says Jay.
    The complaints arm of the new regulator should be dealing with less complaints than the current PCC as newspapers strengthen internal controls, Black says.
    Black: Think the press, because they want to be seen to be making system work, will be prepared to make funding commitments on it. 
    Black says standards and compliance arm of regulator is most important part.
    Jay points out the power of individuals - such as Paul Dacre and Les Hinton - could still be a problem in new body. Black: Aim of this system is to bring everything up to the standard of the best examples e.g. Telegraph, Guardian's readers editor.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Jay suggests that serving editors on the new system will give the perception of a lack of independence.
    Black says that if the word "self" in "independently-led self regulation" is to mean anything then it must have involvement by current practitioners.
    "That's why the key in this system is the presence of this trust board," he adds.
    The strong feedback from the industry is that it must have serving editors on the complaints committee, Black says.
    Leveson says: "Well, you can't have been too surprised by that?"
    Black replies: "That is probably right, sir."
    Black says that evidence received by the inquiry has highllighted a broad range of internal compliance regimes, citing the contrast between regional press and the tabloids.
    Lord Black says transparency born of #leveson inquiry has been "biggest boon to ensuring highest standards in newspapers". #leveson says he hopes that is right. Fears when report is published many will say the inquiry has been a complete waste of time.

    #pressreform editor called away, for remainder of Lord Black's testimony, please see  Guardian Live Blog HERE

    From Guardian Live Blog:
    1.35pm: Here is a brief summary of evidence heard by the Leveson inquiry today:
    • Lord Black has been quizzed on his proposals for a reconstituted press regulator.
    • Black argued that any statutory involvement would open the door to government interference.
    • He said the newspaper industry broadly has a "philosophical and fundamental" opposition to fresh legislation.
    • Richard Desmond's Daily Express and Daily Star support Black and Lord Hunt's plans.
    • Robert Jay QC, counsel to inquiry, suggested the public would not perceive "secondary legislation" as inimical to a free press.
    • DAC Sue Akers (or her successor) will update Leveson in the coming weeks on Scotland Yard investigations into phone hacking and related inquiries.

    After lunch, Lord Black's testimony continues:
    Guardian Live Blog:
    Black is asked about the remit of the new regulator, as set out here.
    The regulator advises that: "Regulated Entities are expected to try and resolve their issues with the complainant directly where possible".
    Black explains that this is to make the regulator more efficient and to increase the transparency of individual publishers.
    Jay asks Black about the definition of "systemic failure" in newspapers which would trigger a standards investigation by the new regulator.
    Black: One episode could trigger an investigation but more likely to be a build up of breaches over time.
    Black: Regulator would have a ladder of sanctions from straightforward correction through to formal reprimand of the editor.

    Didn't guy black go on holiday with rebekah brooks? Would his new pcc have conducted a full investigation of the NOW? 
    RT @MatthewWells: @dansabbagh yes! 2002. Is mentioned here --》black-brooks axis detailed here
    See also: - 
    The Curious Case of the Palace and the Paper - Guardian - January 2002

    Guardian Live Blog:
    The new regulator will have the power to fine publishers up to 1% of their annual turnover up to a cap of £1m
    Black: Would expect regulator to take a more robust approach to adjudicating where there was clearly a public interest in doing so.
    Jay asks Black about third-party complaints [big regulation issue at #Leveson]. Black: Regulator would have a ladder of sanctions from straightforward correction through to formal reprimand of the editor. Black on third-party comp: May be role for standards arm in this to trigger investigation if certain words used in a systemic way.  Black says proposal is intended to make it easier for groups to bring discrimination complaints. Some confusion over wording.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Under the new system, the regulator must agree with the publisher what prominence to give adjudicated complaints.
    Jay sifting through Black's proposal to find points that haven't been covered orally. Now on to appeals. Black: If trust board believed there to be a case it would appoint another panel of three people to look at decisions afresh.

    Black in disastrous exchange with Jay - can't tell Jay if new pcc will have power to dictate where corrections appear. Why not?

    Guardian Live Blog:
    "I think that's going to be a matter for the regulator to deal with code committee," Black says, on whether the new regulator will have the power to direct the prominence of corrections and clarifications.
    "That's why I tried to make clear here it will be a matter for the new regulator to set these out and I'm not going to try and tie the hands of a new regulator body."
    Black: The provision of a press card is an assistance to journalists, not a complete bar to them going about business. Black says PA are currently looking at whether they could refuse to provide content for publications outside of regulation.

    Leveson sounds totally unimpressed with idea that journalists from non pcc papers be denied press cards.
    [Surely weakness is: either denying cards is restraint of trade on individuals or, it isn't restraint of trade&therefore cards don't matter] 
    Black reveals Press Association news wire doing study into whether it cd be part of press sanctions, reports Sept . (Suggestion has been publishers who don't sign up cd be barred from using PA #Leveson )

    PA board will meet in Sept to hear if Desmond's express and other non pcc titles be banned from using wires.
    Black #leveson: [Press Association members are, of course, the publishers themselves - this is one cosy world]
    @benfenton @lisaocarroll The whole press cards business as a method of compelling compliance with a code is a non-starter

    Black: General view that the regulator should be open and transparent might be important to codify in the articles of association.
    Black: There should be a named senior individual responsible for the maintenance of standards and reporting to the regulator. Black: You have to respect the nature of the company involved as to whom they choose to have as the senior person.
    Black: Setting up an investigation can be very costly, important checks and balances in system to deal with this. 
    Black: Can't be overstated quite how serious adverse finding from the standards and compliance panel of the new regulator would be.

    [The Regulator has to be genuinely independent to deal with feeding frenzies by whole press, as happened in McCanns' case]
    #Leveson: incidentally, doesn't the title The Regulator sound like Witchfinder General or perhaps The Fat Controller?
    Black #Leveson: Jay sceptical about lengthy and 'bureaucratic' process of obtaining an adverse adjudication that leads to financial sanction.
    Black #Leveson: has said several times that there is 'a consensus' among publishers about the contract proposal - but is that really so?

    Black says document #leveson is looking at is one lawyers [RPC] drew up after lengthy consultation with all industry members [Oh.] @GreensladeR #leveson has always said he wanted as close as unanimity as possible. Consensus is nowhere near that, is it?

    Chairman of body that funds PCC warns Leveson press will fight statutory-underpinned regulator
    Jay asks Black if he stands by his statement: "A good journalist should rejoice in being held in low esteem by the public".  Black says he can't remember saying it but says it would have been a relative point. #Leveson: Can do no more than say you'll have to take your own view as to what steps you want to take with your proposal.

    Black reminded that he said in 2004 that journalists should be held in low esteem by british public. Doesn't make him look good now.

    Lord Black's testimony is ended:

    Lord Hunt

    Guardian Live Blog HERE
    Lord Hunt begins his testimony...
    Hunt: I tried to be the independent chairman of an independent body with a blank piece of paper. Hunt: I do believe the press have come a considerable way - to consider the idea of a regulator for the first time. Hunt: I don't see the PCC as a regulator, but I can understand other people being under the impression that it was. Hunt: I don't see the PCC as a regulator, but I can understand other people being under the impression that it was. Hunt: I want to see independent people who don't have baggage or conflicts of interest but must draw on strength of the industry. Hunt: The great value of editors is that they're dealing with the situation as it is at the heart of the industry.
    Hunt on PCC: Decisions do not divide between independent members and editorial members. It's a valuable discussion.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    In his witness statement, Hunt says he does not believe "true self regulation" has ever been attempted in the UK.
    Hunt outlines broadly what the new regulator must do.
    He highlights independence of industry, while still having the close involvement of industry insiders, and improving the culture of press ethics.
    All 17 of those who sit to adjudicate – including serving editors – must "put everything at the door" when weighing up complaints, Hunt says.
    [#leveson gets modern. Just said: "Whatever" to Lord Hunt. Didn't do "W" sign with thumbs (unless it was under desk).]
    Hunt: I don't think the number of editors is a key factor. It's the decision-makers that I've been seeking to see.
    Hunt: Most critical people I meet are those in the industry who are really rather ashamed of what some parts of industry have done.
    You can read Lord Hunt's proposal on #Leveson website:

    Lord Hunt produced 1962 Commission report rather like trump card. #Leveson says: We have got that report actually. [lawyer games] Hunt has come to #leveson well prepared, quoting 1962 report into press which supports his idea of a contractual base for regulator.

    Hunt: Contractual system now on the table, gives us a real opportunity for the first time to put things right.
    Jay asks Ld Hunt where we will be if his contractual regulator doesn't work. Hunt says regrets introducing image of Sword of Damocles image. Jay asks Ld Hunt where we will be if his contractual regulator doesn't work. Hunt says Cicero used image of Sword of Damocles to show there couldn't be happiness while threat exists. [Cicero now. 15-love to Hunt.]
    Hunt says he met Aung San Suu Kyi recently [30-love] who told him he must be proud to be "chairman of UK press". "I am," he says.

    #Leveson and Lord Hunt in discussion over judiciary/press regulation. 
    Hunt: I don't think there's a similar press regime anywhere else in the world which criticises ministers, judges, everyone else.
    Hunt ws: In most high-profile cases treatment people received from the PCC also fell short of what a genuine regulator could do.
    Hunt: Of 260 complaints since January, 80 percent of those who have had complaints dealt with expressed satisfaction.
    Jay asks Hunt to summarise the lessons he learned on his visit to Ireland. Hunt says there are considerable differences.
    Hunt: Irish Press Council does achieve universal coverage. See potential for linking Reynolds to membership of regulation.
    Hunt: One has to look over the whole scene and set up a system where it would just not be possible for anyone to withdraw.
    Hunt: I think it's remarkable that Lord Black has been able to get a consensus across the industry.
    Hunt: All the publishers have expressed a willingness to sign up. Have concentrated on them rather than editors.
    Hunt: Everyone wants to see a quick and easy way to resolve disputes but I don't think yet anyone has come forward with a solution.

    Lord Hunt says all publishers have expressed willingness to sign up for his contract-based regulator.
    Hunt: Everyone wants to see a quick and easy way to resolve disputes but I don't think yet anyone has come forward with a solution.
    Hunt: I don't really want the regulator to be involved in how funding is divided between publishers.  Hunt: I stand by my suggestions but believe the outline Lord Black has put forward is an extremely good starting point.

    Jay is trying to work out the differences between Hunt and Black plans. Hunt says vitally important to have whistleblowing hotline.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Jay asks whether the new regulator's £2.25m is sufficient, given the extra work it is set to undertake.
    Hunt says yes, because internal controls at newspapers should mean that the new PCC is dealing with fewer complaints.
    The onus of complaints-handling should be more on individual newspapers than it is currently, he adds.
    Hunt: There shouldn't be artificial barriers to people who feel they have a genuine grievance.
    Hunt: Perfectly in order for a group who feel accuracy has not been followed to make new regulatory structure aware of their views.

    Guardian Live Blog;
    The chairman of the trust body of the new PCC should be appointed by an independent panel of four people and recommended by headhunters.
    Hunt: Believe independent policy of standards is in public interest and new body has to be clearly and demonstrably independent.
    #Leveson: Press people may want somebody looks independent but is "one of us". Hunt: Have yet to find that degree of cynicism. Lev:Have you?
    Hunt: I see ombudsman as believing in a free and responsible press and is charged with seeing the latter is as important as former.

    Lord Hunt's testimony to be continued tomorrow.