WOULDN’T you know it?
Just weeks after I start to write in the press an Appeal Court Judge says that there should be a new law to control me and the editors who check my work.
Okay, that might not be what Lord Justice Leveson actually said but it must be what he meant.
He is a Judge. Law is his first language. He wouldn’t expect any new law to be subtle or persuasive. It will be direct and compelling. I have read a law or two in my time and the words “go easy” and “think twice” have never appeared in any of them.
There are some flawed and cruel people in the press. Many of them seem to have been best mates with the Prime Minister and the Police and others who should have known better. Cruel people conspired to cover up their behaviour.
If anything this should be a warning against entitling the estate to influence what appears in our newspapers. In reporting local news local newspapers like The Leader bring great value to communities. They aren’t going to hurt anybody but they do have to be mindful of a great many laws and principles which already exist.
At a national level journalists have already gone to jail. Senior newspaper executives may well go to jail along with Police and other co-conspirators.
Just right too. Innocent victims will be compensated and will have their credibility restored insofar as this is ever possible.
Lies and innuendo improperly sourced will never be prevented by any law. Exiting laws can and will respond to the problem if properly enforced. No law can itself create trust in any system.
Think of how tightly managed some political parties are. No dissent or controversy leaks out. Statements must be approved. Censorship abounds. Political parties achieve this antiseptic state through their own rules.
Now think what might happen if politicians had rules which give them the opportunity to manage newspapers in the same way. No light would get out. No sound either.
Banking, the media, sport, politics and other major industries all have self-inflicted periods of disgrace. It isn’t new law that will improve standards. Public opinion, a sense of perspective and culling the villains should be enough.