January 31st, 2013

Spectator Debate: Leveson Is a Fundamental Threat to Free Press

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A full house for last night’s Spectator Leveson debate. Guido took to the stage alongside Richard Littlejohn and John Whittingdale to defend the freedom of the press against Murdoch-haters Max Mosley and Chris Bryant. Media lawyer Charlotte Harris turned up late so she was replaced by her swivel-eyed namesake Evan, the failed LibDem politician.

speccie-debate-logo

Highlights included Littlejohn calling out Hacked Off as “Leveson-loving left-wing luvvies, bien pensant self-appointed moral guardians”, and Bryant’s tale of a man turning up at his door offering “submissive” services only for the topless photo-taking MP to tell him to “f**k off”. Guido revealed his first meeting with Bryant, when the Rhondda MP said he wanted this blog closed down. Max Mosley seemed to enjoy talking about his “humiliation” at the hands of the Screws, for some reason.

“Leveson is a fundamental threat to the free press”. Motion carried…

N.B. Guido’s speech in favour of the motion is here.


113 Comments

  1. 1
    Bewildebeest says:

    The most fundamental threat to a free press is the low moral integrity of the individuals in the press. Hence the situation you find yourselves in now.
    You can’t blame everyone else for your own failings.

    Like

    • 10

      The very worst of a free press is better than the very best of a censored one.

      Like

      • 18
        Bewildebeest says:

        Gross oversimplification and you know it.

        Like

        • 63

          I am talking in generalities. I expected criticism for this post but it contains an unavoidable truth. Clearly, anecdotally, you can point up problems. But they don’t change the general principle. In the long run life is not perfect and this is the best you are likely to get.

          Try living in China or North Korea if a censored press appeals.

          Like

          • Bewildebeest says:

            Cat in a box said “life is not perfect” – I agree – “and this is the best you are likely to get” – I disagree, and also no reason not to try.

            Free press – or China ? As others have said, why does it have to be either/or ? A possible solution is a free press whose individuals act responsibly. But our ‘free’ press has shown that it is incapable of doing so (after many years and several last chance saloons) which is why, yet again, we have the call for genuine and independent (PCC ? don’t make me larf) regulation. Unfortunately I have no doubt that history will repeat itself yet again. There will be no meaningful regulation, the press will return to their old habits (did they ever leave them ?) and we will be back here having the same conversation in 10 years time

            Personally I rejoice every day that I live in a country where you and I can have a reasoned and open discussion about our opposing views.

            Every day I lament that individuals with power beyond their ability, and morality, abuse that same privilege, and their fellow men, and then justify it by calling “Free press !, look at the good things we do”.
            Why not do good for its own sake ?

            Like

          • Upon my return I saw that my original post had sparked off some remarks. It was meant to.

            I have answered you and several others below and some of what you have just posted is addressed therein as no doubt you, being a perceptive type, will have noted.

            This situation will go on until the cows come home. You can rest assured that whatever parliament does about it, it will either be wrong in itself or, just as badly, misused by them for another originally unintended purpose.

            Agree that just because the world is imperfect that this is not a good enough reason to ignore injustice altogether. There is simply a point which we reach though that any attempt to remedy guarantees failure. We are way past that point now.

            The reason I left the UK was precisely because I felt boxed in by my opinions. I have met extreme hostility because of my views. On more than one occasion violence.

            I am fortunate to have a great many intelligent friends. I mostly do not match up to their wisdom or indeed level of education. You mention that we can have a reasoned and open discussion about our views but miss the point that we are speaking to each other under the cloak of anonymity. You appear to be the very type of person I like to engage with face to face. One only comes into contact with such people by accident unless you do what I did and start going to conference as an amateur.

            Press regulation will never work. Never has – never will. I am sure we could talk all night over this one!

            Like

          • Anonymous says:

            the best life depends on what you define best to be.
            best for whom.
            if the best life is one that starts with knowing reality than we are all in trouble. only exception, man at the top for he knows. but to be more precise, his all knowing no, 2. Join the cult of the one.
            if not gain awareness of reality. the hurdles along the way are exceptional.
            intuition is your friend. although google suggests oogling….the vibrational sound which ends in the groin. now say ling and feel the vibration in the groin for it stirs fornication.

            Like

      • 34
        Sir William says:

        Nobody believes in complete freedom of the press. If anybody says they do, they are asserting the right of the press to fake up a video of them abusing a young child and to publish it on the web as true. Freedom of the press is a ‘default’ position, to be restricted only to the minimum extent necessary to avoid serious harm. The extent of the restrictions must, therefore, depend partly on the behaviour of the press, i.e. how much harm they would do without such restrictions.

        As others have pointed out, most of the actions complained off by the Hacked Off brigade were already illegal anyway, so if any further restrictions were necessary they should have made a case for them specifically, rather than the Levesonian option of a general right of censorship.

        Like

        • 41
          Pierced Organ says:

          Are you trying to be facetious?

          Like

        • 70

          Freedom includes the freedom to make mistakes. To your third sentence, it all depends upon what you mean by minimum extent and serious harm. Probably not two people will ever agree on this entirely if you chose enough examples. That will always have to be done by a balance of views. There are things which were illegal when I was young which are perfectly acceptable now.

          Agree wholeheartedly that acts which are already illegal do not need to be covered by ever more overlays of legislation which massages the egos of the sponsors but often muddy the waters and create unintended consequences. These later are just the fleas to bite ‘em.

          Like

      • 45
        SP4BS says:

        I’m sure Fatty Arbuckle wouldn’t agree with you.

        Well of course he wouldn’t. he’s dead.

        Like

      • 48
        SP4BS says:

        PS:
        False dichotomy.

        Perhaps if they weren’t obsessed about what irrelevant people were doing legally with their cocks, they could go after real stories.

        Notably about what irrevant people were illegally doing with their cocks.

        Like

        • 75

          You are of course correct but only if you are limiting the subject to the UK. It is not a Moreton’s fork however.

          But it does create good argument which may get to a better position, despite expectations, so I am happy to accept this criticism.

          Like

      • 65
        Frederick Gideon Threepwood says:

        It is never a case of a free press or a censored press; rather it is a question of the consequences of misbehaviour. For example; a free press could publish what they wish about (say) the Dowler case but feel distinctly unfree if perfectly reasonable measures were put in place to deal with lies or persistent harassment. Such measures (which are entirely consistent with a free press) would include;
        * right of equally prominent apology/reply,
        * the imposition of personal vicarious liability on press proprietors and editors (as opposed or in addition to organisational vicarious liability’
        * the establishment of a right to privacy with civil damages for breach (but not criminal).
        Of course, there is the unbeatable argument for press control, Richard Littlejohn. Any man who is supported by Dick Sniffin, suggests the use of flamethrowers on gays and mocks cerebral palsy sufferers deserves the ultimate penalty. But one should never make hard law based on extreme cases (or, in this case, scum).

        Like

    • 14
      Anonymous says:

      so your solution is you can’t say anything unless it’s ok with his lordshit?

      Like

      • 25
        Bewildebeest says:

        Where did you get that from ? I would say that you can say anything if it’s ok with YOUR conscience. First you have to have one.

        Like

    • 16
      Tony Bliar (godfather to one of Murdoch's kids) says:

      The Press are awful, aren’t they? It’s unbelievable what they’ve been able to get away with.

      Like

      • 21
        rebekah aka nellnewman says:

        Oh the press are dreadful I mean just look how they harassed those ‘poor’ politicians over their dishonest expenses that cost the taxpayer needless £millions!

        Like

    • 17
      Vote UKIP says:

      You can say exactly the same about the NHS, the BBC, politioians, the tax system or any other state institution. The answer is not to give the state more power – but reduce it.

      Like

    • 30
      I am not a number says:

      What about low moral integrity of the politicians?

      Like

      • 47
        Bewildebeest says:

        Indeed, I’m not disputing that. I agree with Vote UKIP above – people acting without conscience can destroy anything. The difference with ‘the media’ is the disproportionate influence and effect that their self serving actions can have combined with fact that they are unelected, unrepresentative, unappointed and largely unaccountable. Does that apply to any other group ?

        Like

        • 73

          Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist-it is estimated that 80% of all the bad shit that happens is down to psychopaths.

          How is Dirty Des nowadays, Guido? Still doing the old goose step and Nazi salutes in meetings when anyone opposes him, and offering to fight them outside if they object to his antics?

          I would love to be at one of those meetings, and he could bring his private physician along as his second.

          Like

        • 76
          Mike says:

          Just do not buy the newspaper. Entertainers use the media to create a career , that is why critics and advertising exists. Many entertainers use PR companies to insert articles about them into newspapers to further their career.

          Max Mosely is part of an industry which has used the media to turn car racing from which as recently as the 1950s was only minimally profitable to one in the last 20 years has become incredibly profitable and powerful. Consequently, Mosely decisions on racing can have a massive impact on the wealth of others.
          Therefore Mosely is in a position where if he is blackmailed , decisions by him could affect the wealth of many people. If Mosely wants to be in the position where he cannot affect the wealth of others then he should return racing to the 1930s when it was undertaken by amateurs.

          The entertainers could have remained amateurs , and therefore they would not have used the media to build a professional career and therefore be of no interest to the media.

          Hugh Grant boosted his career by using Liz Hurley when she attended to a film premier in a revealing dress and the photograph appeared in many newspapers.

          Bryant placed a photograph of himself in underpants into the electronic media and therefore as a MP raised doubts about his judgement.

          Like

    • 39
      EU Kommissar says:

      Morality?

      No – only journalists & publications….& blogs….. that subscribe to “European Values” will be issued with licenses to operate in aany region of the EU Federation.

      Like

  2. 2
    No.1 says:

    first!

    Like

  3. 4
    rebekah aka nellnewman says:

    You mean they didn’t invite twatson to add his 10 pennorth of bile?

    He must have been gutted.

    Glad to see the motion against leveson was carried – there is at least some common sense in this mad world.

    Like

  4. 5
    Greedo Fawkes says:

    Richard Littlejohn is fucking scum.

    Like

    • 9
      rebekah aka nellnewman says:

      No littlejohn like quentin letts, is a sane outspoken voice in mad sometimes corrupt world.

      That’s why they’re both disliked so much and especially by politicians.

      Like

      • 28
        The truth drives leftist moonbats crazy says:

        And of course by ALL drooling lefties.

        Like

      • 33
        Anonymous says:

        yes like the fact he hammered the Liberals and Labour for voting against changes to boundaries dont see any fucker else reporting it just wait till Labour get back in fucking doomed we are.

        Like

        • 42
          rebekah aka nellnewman says:

          Well labour may have gerrymandered to electoral boundaries whilst in office (much like they gerrymandered everything else) but it didn’t win them the 2010 election as they thought it would.

          And cameron had he fought the tories corner a different way could have won a majority as indeed he can in 2015 .

          If labour are banking on winning the election in 2015 on the basis of those boundaries they may be disappointed.

          Like

      • 37
        T'Old Fella says:

        To the left, Littlejohn s scum
        To the right, any opposition is swivel eyed
        Now that we have got that of the way, are there any constructive comments beyond personal insults

        Like

        • 69
          Charlie Chump says:

          A press which is controlled by politicians is not a free press.

          If the News of the World did something illegal, then prosecute the wrongdoers. That’s all that is needed.

          This press bashing furore is just sour grapes because the Sun switched it’s support away from Labour.

          These out of touch judges need to be kicked into touch.

          Like

          • golli says:

            Har hear and once they start fiddling with press freedom they will come for you and your personal and individual freedoms, its the thin edge of the wedge. Leveson’s recommendations should be bonfired.

            Like

      • 61
        Press Watch says:

        Agreed: One used to think he was a less than honorable once upon a time, but that was when the BBC featured heavily in my diet and he was over at the Sun. It was not Littlejohn who had the problem.

        Like

      • 77
  5. 6
    None of the above V2 says:

    Were you wearing any knickers?

    Like

  6. 8
    rebekah aka nellnewman says:

    When you look at the people who have vociferously supported leveson, mosley, bryant, twatson , that hugh actor person there isn’t really anyone with irreproachable integrity is there?

    All leveson’s supporters seem to be people tainted with scandal of one sort or another.

    Like

    • 29
      CHRIST ON A BIKE! says:

      a load of degenerate luvvies and Common Purposers basically.

      Precisely why I oppose Leveson. Despite the fact that I haven’t bought a paper for 6 years and think that national newspaper editorial staff and proprietors are mostly talentless, degenerates with no more integrity than pond scum.
      Newspapers are dying and for damn good reason. The quality isn’t sufficient for people to keep paying for them. When basic news needs are covered for free by internet.

      Although as they are an antidote to the Marxist liars and brainwashers, at the BBC, I can see their value. But once So-vile scandal kills off the BBC. News papers can swiftly follow as far as I am concerned, I just think it should be a natural death, not assisted suicide.

      Like

      • 54
        Vote UKIP says:

        Newspapers are dying for the very same reason that other industries died. They are becoming obsolete. Their ‘news’ is usually nearly always a day old. When they were at their height they didn’t have to compete with instant TV coverage (now 24 hours a day) or the internet.

        Like

      • 58
        Jimbo says:

        Well said.

        Like

    • 55
      SP4BS says:

      If I was a lizard in charge of the world, I couldn’t have made it go better.

      a penile side show to entertain the masses. (aimed in all directions)

      Like

    • 82
      Anonymous says:

      Thats the whole point really! i dont think there was one person who supportd Leveson who hadnt done something questionable, they all made a lot of money from the public but didnt have the sense to know it is a two way street. They are all second raters anyway, who have been very lucky !

      Like

    • 86
      Billericay Dickie says:

      Unfortunately, all the opponents seem to be fat, sweaty gobshites.

      Couldn’t they find anyone with any vestige of class or intellect to oppose it?

      Like

  7. 11
    Save our solicitors says:

    Presumably Charlotte Harris is opposed to Leveson, because otherwise her practice will dry up and she won’t be taking home £1m in drawings each year?

    Like

  8. 12
    Hacked Off publicity department says:

    We have taken out advertorials in all the national newspapers to try an promote our cause

    Like

  9. 13
    Operation Crossbow says:

    Funny that everytime there is some disaster in the world where loads of people have been killed because of a lack of “elf n safteeeee” Richard Littleprick makes sure his column makes not mention of “elf n safteeeeeeeee gone bonkers”

    Presumably in Littlepricks world he’s like hundreds to die in nightclub fires every day?

    Like

    • 23
      rebekah aka nellnewman says:

      hmmm that could be because his writing focus is life and society in the UK.

      Like

      • 93
        Operation Crossbow says:

        Yes but if Littleprick had his way we’d be like Brazil and all these other 3rd world death traps.

        Like

        • 104
          JH293923492384 says:

          Actually what is exactly how we will end up on our current path.

          Producers will have been destroyed or be in hiding, all that is left is hordes of the annoyed people annoyed that the freebies are gone with nothing but seething ethnic tension, gang warfare and miserable poverty left.

          But so long as everyone is equally miserable, eh. Apart from our betters in The Party, obviously.

          Like

    • 94
      Anonymous says:

      Yep I think Littlejohn would agree that there were no elf and safety issus with letting off fireworks in a nightclub….What could possibly go wrong doing that ?….

      Like

    • 101
      JH293923492384 says:

      Not letting off fireworks against flammable materials in packed buildings with one exit would seem to be in the realms of common sense, rather than requiring government regulation.

      But more government=good, right comrade?

      Like

  10. 15
    Jen The Blue says:

    Like all threats to civil liberties the danger is in the slice by slice “salami tactics”.

    Once you set the precedent of state control, however light at first, it will be extended.

    The same has happened in our justice system with the erosion of trial by jury. The same with freedom of speech..

    We live in disturbing times.

    Like

    • 24
      albacore says:

      Never mind quality, feel how wide shit’s spread
      Propaganda’s so free, it does in your head
      This won’t arf be good – Ken’s rallying the troops
      They’ll be somersaulting and jumping through hoops
      To prove the E U benefits the nation
      (Wonder how big they’ll feature immigration?)
      Still, they needn’t get their shreddies in a twist
      Dave’s referendum’s as solid as Scotch mist

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21269658

      Like

      • 84
        restore the monasteries says:

        Ken Clarke was defending the indefensible,supporting the very corrupt EU…
        From the evidence observed over time,people who support the corrupt EU,are either working for the corrupt EU,or in receipt of some form of payment from the
        corrupt EU,or have friends and family connected to the corrupt EU ,in receipt of payment from the corrupt EU..They must also hate our little country,or,are wilfully
        blind to the damage done to our country by the corrupt EU…Also, James Whale has gone down with the lefty disease,as seen on sky paper review…
        (got that off my chest)

        Like

  11. 18
    Huge Grant says:

    Well, umm, the thing is, umm , how can I put this, umm, well what I am trying to say in a roundabout way, as succintly as possible, umm in a candid and straightforward way, oh hell, here goes, umm I am a wanker

    Like

  12. 22
    Lord Pierre de Handlesome says:

    Was Bryant wearing trousers behind that table?

    Like

  13. 31
    rebekah aka nellnewman says:

    Putting the press under control of parliament would be like giving bank robbers control of the Bank of England.

    Like

  14. 32
    Mornington Crescent says:

    “Motion carried” – well, yes – but only just if you read Nelson’s blog in the Spec.

    About what you’d expect from a debate in Metropolitan bien-pensant land.

    Like

  15. 43
    What is the tattoo going to say says:

    Slippery when wet?

    Like

  16. 53
    Jimbo says:

    Leverson is a danger to free speech but we must not forget that free speech is already compromised in a major way by the NUJ. They have a ban on anything they do not like destroying Free speech in this Country, coupled with the Governments creeping controls on democracy Britain is becoming a Communist State. Free Speech is being able to say what you want about any subject however distasteful reliant on common decency of material mentioned. Those that read this site are already aware of our erosion of freedom and the power mad yearning for control of peoples minds by the Left as they yearn for the full control of Peoples minds mostly through dubious ways. We need our Freedom ,Honesty and Decency back into the British way of Life and until this happens all Politicians will be walking on very thin ice.

    Like

    • 59
      T'Old Fella says:

      Jimbo, cocky, “coupled with the Governments creeping controls on democracy Britain is becoming a Communist State” it is a Cons government in power limply assisted by the LibDems

      Like

      • 66
        Party Watch says:

        You know that is as true as saying there was a ‘Labour’ government in 1997 through 2010.

        The rosettes are different, but the ideology has been the same from both sides for a while now. Why is Ed’s sheet of paper blank ? Because it would look silly to write down everything that the other side are doing right now.

        Like

      • 110
        CYNICAL OLD MAN says:

        Cameron was bounced into forming the Leveson Enquiry on the back of the Guardian’s lying “NEWS OF THE WORLD HACKED MILLY DOWLER’S PHONE” headline. Dave should have kept his nerve and told the Common Purpose pod people to “Feck Off”. Now he’s lumbered with the law of unintended consequences.

        I think it is a common truth, though, that ALL governments want to control the people, and controlling a free press is part of the plan.

        I used to think those who warned about One World Government were conspiracy obsessives. Now, having seen what the E.U. plan for press regulation and what Obama id trying to do in “the Land of the Free”, I think the tin foil hat brigade may have a point.

        Like

    • 67
      Libertarian says:

      You have just made the libertarian case, you should vote UKIP.

      Like

  17. 89
    Tin Tin the boy reporter says:

    ‘Leveson is a fundamental threat to press freedom’….Hang on, nothings happened nothings changed.

    Like

    • 99
      Catty Comment (Ms) says:

      … apart from the fact that millions of people have now been made aware about the seething corruption present throughout our so-called “great and good” cess pit establishment and “elites”.

      Like

  18. 97
    (I don't need no doctor) says:

    Bryant is in denial. He is a proven liar, so who on earth would take him seriously, apart from his own labour stooges.

    Like

  19. 98
    FlipC says:

    ‘Leveson is a fundamental threat to our ability to sit in a bush half-a-mile away and take shots of a ‘celebrities’ under-age children in their swimming costumes’ claims Daily Wail (sidebar at current time featuring 6-year old Suri Cruise, 7-year old Violet Garner, Sara Jessica Parkers 3-year old twins and so on )

    Like

  20. 102
    (I don't need no doctor) says:

    Is Charlotte Harris the grand daughter of Marty Feldman?

    Like

  21. 103
    (I don't need no doctor) says:

    So far Leveson has been good for failing actors and perverts.

    Like

  22. 105
    Charlie Chump says:

    How ironic, my comment has been deleted by the moderator!

    Like

  23. 106
    Loopy Lou says:

    I think the Government should go to Court and get an Injunction preventing the Press talking about Leveson .

    Leveson Part One is done. There are criminal cases ongoing and these have to be concluded. Once they are concluded we can have Leveson Part Two.

    Then give the Press 14 days to have their say pending legislation .

    You know it makes sense .

    Like

  24. 108
    SCP says:

    It might be healthier if the press were prepared to report on each other. There seems an unwritten rule about not doing so (except perhaps the Grauniad’s hatred of Murdoch). If someone got a picture of a very junior BBC employee sniffing white powder then many papers would print it but I suspect that if the editor of one of the leading newspapers was photographed in similar circumstances then the other papers would stay clear of the story. The portray an image of newspaper staff who never get drunk, take drugs, have affairs etc which everyone knows is complete rubbish.

    But as with all the telephone hacking at Murdoch papers, the other papers must have known about it but kept quiet mainly because they were also doing it, sometimes apparently on a bigger scale.

    Like

  25. 109
    The savant10.4 highway patrol says:

    Anyway. Well done guido

    Congratulations pn turning up. , putting your head above the parapet and winning the day .

    Long may you prosper

    Or as the Scots would say

    LANG MAY YER LUMMEBB REEK !!!

    Like

  26. 111
    keredybretsa says:

    Cogratters to Guido and friends. Your speech for freedom of speech was as usual excellent. Long may your Blog, bloggel!

    Like

  27. 112
    NE Frontiersman says:

    ‘Max Mosley seemed to enjoy talking about his “humiliation” at the hands of the Screws, for some reason’
    Well, normally he has to pay good money for this kind of treatment.

    Like

  28. 113
    Anonymous says:

    What outcome would you expect at a Spectator event? Bound to be full of Tory weirdos.

    Like


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