Sir Brian Leveson’s clever strategy with his committee appearance was to stand on the Fifth (see Quote of the Day).
For the first long sequence of answers to Tory questions he confined himself to variations of “Quod dixi, dixi.” In English, “Read the report, you lazy tossers!”
But he was happy to answer Labour’s Ben Bradshaw as though he was being paid by the word.
Labour heads nodded sagely as he repeated his owlish judicialisms, and a chorus of Core Participants in reserved seats (two thirds of the public seating) chuckled supportively.
Tory Conor Burns wished the Inquiry had never been constituted. The criminal law could have cleared up the evils complained of.
Tory Tracey Crouch struck a spark. The three existing media regulators all had a different definition of “public interest”. So, was it possible to design a regulatory regime without a single definition of this important principle?
We had got along for years without such a definition, Sir Brian observed.
Yes, but we’d also got on for years without a Leveson-compliant regulatory regime.
Sir Brian’s decision not to engage in the cage-fight of public debate started to look understandable. He’s not very good at it.
Philip Davies’ audience enjoyed his impression of examining magistrate with his full array of contemptuous insinuations, nasty innuendoes and (best of all) insolent incredulity. Sir Brian didn’t like it one little bit.
The details are too many for this sketch but the general idea was that their Bonking Barrister’s Crafty Counsel’s Plea was for More Sex, We’re Solicitors! And Brian, the innocent old booby was in it up to his apricots.
Sir Brian doesn’t realise how these things work. If politicians are given a stitch they’ll eventually make a net.
As for not adding any kind of gloss on his report: “I should like to think the general public is sufficiently sophisticated to know what the general issues are.”
Of course he’d also like to think the general public reads Le Monde, eats Sartre sandwiches and is saving up for a Chagal.