Leveson sets out press measures

Leveson sets out press measures

Britain's Justice Leveson today gave his strongest indication of the measures he believes are needed to tackle problems in the UK Press in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

He told the inquiry he wants a body that is independent of the establishment and of the Press.

Measures to improve systems of redress for the public and a mechanism for intervening before damaging stories are published are also being considered.

He said: “Whatever comes out of this…must command the respect of the press but also the general public. I would like to think about a system that provides redress, particularly to those who can’t afford to litigate. It’s got to be speedy, it’s got to be effective, it’s got to achieve a result.”

Justice Leveson complained that under current rules they were not able to make a collective complaint about any article they felt was unfair or untrue.

He also signalled he will look for some way of solving the problem of prior notification to stop the problem of newspapers failing to contact the subject of a story for fear of being slapped with an injunction.

“There has to be some way of drawing a line,” he said.

Justice Leveson said he wants a mechanism of swift resolution for privacy and libel cases.

Dismissing claims he plans to gag the Press, he added: “I have absolutely no interest in imperilling the freedom of expression of the Press.”

Earlier, Former British PM Tony Blair denied New Labour had run a press operation that used bullying tactics and favouritism to manipulate journalists.

Pressed by leading counsel Robert Jay QC over why a “mythology” had built up around him over use of the “dark arts”, he insisted he “hated” that type of politics.

“I have never authorised or said to someone go out and brief against this person or that person,” he said. “I hate that type of stuff. It’s the lowest form of politics.”

Mr Blair called for newspapers to separate fact from comment, warning there was now a “violent and aggressive genre of attack”.

He added: “It’s a very pessimistic view of the world that says you can’t make the news interesting unless you distort it.”

He did not rule out supporting future proposals for a statutory system of press regulation.

Eggs were thrown at Mr Blair as he left the Royal Courts of Justice.

Meanwhile, an investigation is now trying to find out how a protester evaded security and confronted Mr Blair with accusations that he (Mr Blair) was a war criminal, which the ex PM denied.

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