What Hugh Grant and I should have told Leveson

Peter Elms

And why David Cameron is right to have an “open mind” on Leveson prior to the release of the report.

Number 10 have said that Cameron has an ‘open mind’ on the Leveson Inquiry. Very predictable for him to say that pre the release of the report you might think – but this could be true.

Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on 14 November 2011, saying “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”

Had I been called up I might have said something like this:

  • I like free speech.
  • I like to be able to say what I want, when I want to. It’s one of the reasons I like working in communications (working in PR I would almost certainly have name dropped PLMR at this point).
  • It’s one of my favourite things. I know lots of people that also like to be able to do it.
  • However, I don’t like the idea of people saying mean things about me to other people, even if they are true. That makes me unhappy, even though I am sure it happens. I am sure I would feel worse about it were they to do it in a newspaper.
  • But I do sometimes say mean things about people to other people, sometimes these things may turn out not to be true. Just like journalists do in newspapers.
  • Also, I often find the private lives of celebrities interesting, be they legislators or floppy haired romantic comedy stars/ teen singing sensations from Canada. In fact I have paid money for the privilege of being able to read about them.
  • I really don’t like, at all, the idea of people having their phones hacked when their daughter doesn’t return home from school one day. I think most people would agree with me.
  • I don’t want the press to ever do this again because I would never want this to happen to me or anyone I care about. Or in fact anyone I don’t care about.
  • I don’t like the idea of politicians creating regulations which might limit the ability of the press to publish stories about them that I feel are important.
  • But then again, I don’t feel I need to know if a politician is having an affair or not.
  • But I might do, dependent on the circumstances.
  • I don’t know who should guard the guardians, any more than I know which came first between the chicken or the egg, but maybe I wouldn’t have ordered an inquiry to answer that question and maybe I wouldn’t have done so, so quickly.
  • I am not sure we can legislate to sort any of these matters out, beyond the useful hacking laws that we already have.
  • Perhaps freedom of speech just upsets some people sometimes.
  • Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Good luck with the report.

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