This is the roll call of wrong ‘uns who tried to implement Leveson 2. Fortunately for the freedom of the press, they failed by nine votes.
Abbott, rh Ms Diane
Allin-Khan, Dr Rosena
Bailey, Mr Adrian
Barron, rh Sir Kevin
Beckett, rh Margaret
Benn, rh Hilary
Betts, Mr Clive
Blackford, rh Ian
MPs have voted against Ed Miliband’s Leveson 2 amendment by a majority of nine. And…
I understand Labour will not be pushing the section 40 amendment to the Data Protection Bill to a vote, meaning newspapers will not be liable for legal costs in libel actions they win. Big victory for investigative journalism.
Tonight the Commons votes on Tom Watson and Ed Miliband’s amendments declaring war on press freedom. The amendments are a Trump-style assault on the media, outrageously attempting to force publishers to pay both sides’ legal costs even if they win a dispute – a reform that will potentially bankrupt media companies. Watson and Miliband, backed by former fascist Max Mosley and Hacked Off’s press-hating millionaire celebrities and oligarchs, last night lost the support of the Guardian. In an excoriating statement condemning Watson and Miliband, Guardian News and Media warn the amendments “would further erode press freedom and have a severe chilling effect for the news environment in the UK”. They are particularly damning of Watson:
“The inclusion of Condition A has been widely interpreted as ensuring that news organisations structured along the lines of the Guardian and the Observer should be excluded from the scope of the broader clause. This clause was not discussed with Guardian News & Media and we disagree with attempts to impose a selective sanction on the media.”
These amendments are driven by Watson and Miliband’s personal loathing of the free press, rather than any concern for victims of intrusion. Miliband has semi-retired from his £77,000-a-year job as MP for Doncaster North – he seems to spend most of his time making podcasts and he couldn’t be bothered to turn up for the Syria debate last month. Even the Guardian is horrified by this blatant attempt by Watson and Miliband to undermine the free press in Britain. Any MP who votes for their amendments tonight is an enemy of press freedom…
In a 2014 speech delivered to mark the second anniversary of the Leveson Inquiry, Labour media supremo Tom Watson said:
“We all – every party including my own – need to comply with the Leveson recommendations on the contacts we have with senior journalists, editors and proprietors. There is a lot of talk about the public’s right to know, well given the shabby history, the public has a clear right to know when their elected representatives are mixing with these people and why.
“All parties need to do what the judge asked on that point.”
The Tories have written to Jeremy Corbyn to raise the issue “that the Labour Party has not published any transparency data relating to meetings with proprietors, editors and senior media executives since the last general election.” Transparency details used to appear on the party’s website, listing contact between frontbenchers and the media. Today Guido cannot find any such information. Despite Max Mosley giving £500,000 to Tom Watson to get him to push the Leveson agenda, Labour has broken its very own Leveson pledge…
We do not now know which media moguls and senior editors Jeremy Corbyn has met. Morning Star’s editor will probably be on the list…
Who is behind the John Whittingdale story? For the last two years Natalie Rowe, the prostitute who made the infamous coke and bondage allegations about George Osborne, has been tweeting excitably about Whitto’s relationship with a dominatrix. Her allegations, including the pictures she tweeted of Whitto and his former partner, eventually found their way onto the eccentric Byline website. Yet well before the revelations broke, Rowe had a long phone call with Tom Watson where they discussed “in detail” her story about Whittingdale:
tom_watson Why are you not using your Parliamentary Privilege in relation to John Whittingdale, we spoke in detail on the phone – USE IT
Natalie was frustrated with Watson’s apparent failure to get the story going. Conveniently, it eventually ended up on Byline, whose writers Watson is very friendly with. Whitto and Watson of course have history after they sat on the Culture, Media and Sport committee together back during the hacking scandal. Ironic that Watson, a man who previously had a keen interest in keeping his personal life out of the press, was so interested in the private relationships of a political enemy…
UPDATE:Peston is briefed that Watson warned the Sunday People against running the story. So Watson did have behind the scenes discussions with both the source and the press…
Gary Gibbon points out that Miller was pushed after her PPS’s multi-vehicle pile up on Sky News. MacLeod went to pieces when confronted with her text message, revealed exclusively by Guido, citing a Leveson witch-hunt:
“I was told by one government source that Maria Miller’s PPS’s appearance on Sky News and her text message to Tory backbenchers saying the attacks on Maria Miller were a media witch-hunt were “the final straw.” This “should never have been said,” another government source said.”
The wheels were off by the time discipline had collapsed and anger led to leaking.
Once again Maria Miller has tried to use the threat of the post-Leveson age to shut down her expenses scandal. Mary Macleod, PPS to the fatally wounded Culture Secretary, today texted Tory MPs begging for support. Again Miller’s people have cited threats to press freedom. Mary Macleod said:
“I believe there is a media witch-hunt on Maria due to Levesen [sic]. How do you feel about it? Happy to answer any questions you may have. She would really appreciate your support. Many thanks Mary”
Craig Oliver is in full denial mode after former Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher went after him on the Today programme, suggesting that the Downing Street spin boss cited Leveson when trying to shut down the Maria Miller story:
“It is entirely false to suggest that I tried to threaten him with Leveson in any way. The conversation I had with him was about the inappropriate doorstepping of an elderly man (Maria Miller’s father).”
Gallagher has hinted to the Daily Politics that he has a tape. Craig emailed the show live to say “Tony is talking rubbish about me, and you can use that”.
This is getting serious…
UPDATE: Gallagher has hit back: “it’s almost as if Craig wants to make the story about him. It isn’t. He is a human shield for Miller. He adds “Incidentally, I note there is no denial coming from Jo Hindley.”
UPDATE II: No tape.
No tape of Craig Oliver: @gallaghereditor: "no tape of Craig – but there is a contemporaneous note. My account has not changed from Dec 12"
The Council of Europe has sent a delegation to the UK to monitor our “democracy”. Embarrassingly the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities feel the need to talk to our very own press-gagger. At 16:30 this afternoon Sir Brian Leveson will meet a representative from Putin’s party and a German socialist, who will no doubt love picking his brains. That’s right, the delegation consists of Mr Alexander Uss, the United Russia Chairman of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Legislative Assembly and German Socialist Party Mayor of Rheine Angelika Kordfelder. Statutory legislation of the press has caught the eye of some interesting characters…
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.
This is how Rolf’s lawyers Harbottle & Lewis tried to use the chilling effect of Leveson to prevent reporting of Rolf’s arrest (reference to Guido breaking the story in yellow). Lawyers disingenuously claimed news of arrest was conjecture:
John Whittingdale has called Brian to give evidence as a witness to his CMS select committee. According to the Sunhe’s been kicking up a fuss about turning up, arguing that judges don’t have to explain their position to MPs. Which all makes for an interesting constitutional stand-off. Popcorn…
Who would have thought that Hacked Off, the lobbyists granted private access to Downing Street and given a sofa in Ed Miliband’s office during the crucial press regulation talks, could have possibly broken parliamentary lobbying rules? John Dickinson-Lilley, Hacked Off’s top lobbyist, failed to declare his position in the register of interests. Lord Low, who sponsors him for a pass, tellingly says “he has a pass courtesy of me but doesn’t work for me”.
Until yesterday the register of interests had Dickinson-Lilley down as an employee of the charity Sense, which he left last year to join Hugh and co. Yet for some reason forget to mention his new job. Hacked Off not being completely transparent? Shocker.
When the Leveson lovers story broke, Brian responded by telling Tory MP Rob Wilson that “Ms Patry Hoskins assisted in the largely mechanical exercise of collecting and organising the evidence”. Adding that “absolutely no role” in work on the section of the report addressing the culture, practices and ethics of the press.[…] Read the rest
Emily Thornberry tells Labour activists some home truths…
“…we must all acknowledge, that there are sickening individuals on the fringes of our movement, who use our legitimate support for Palestine as a cloak and a cover for their despicable hatred of Jewish people, and their desire to see Israel destroyed.”