Taking stock—what has the Leveson Inquiry achieved?

Taking stock—what has the Leveson Inquiry achieved?

A year on from the close of the Leveson Inquiry and the publication of its findings, Edward Craven of Matrix Chambers, considers the impact of the inquiry and the ways in which its influence is shaping press regulation.

What real changes have come about since the close of the Leveson Inquiry?

So far there have been relatively few concrete legal changes, although important developments are in the pipeline in a number of areas. For example:

  • the establishment of a new (self) regulatory body
  • changes to data protection legislation and the role of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), and
  • amendments to the law relating to exemplary and aggravated damages

Is there still momentum for changing the way the press is regulated in the UK?

Though reform of press regulation is fiercely contentious, no one doubts that fundamental change will eventually take effect. The Privy Council is currently considering rival proposals submitted by a group of the UK's largest news organisations and a cross-party alliance of parliamentarians. Both sides are prepared for a protracted fight, including the prospect of litigation.

Some of the legal groundwork has already been laid. Under the cross-party model, the press would establish their own independent regulator overseen by an independent 'recognition panel' established by Royal Charter. Alongside this, the Crime and Courts Act 2013 will exempt news publishers from paying exemplary damages if they sign up to an 'approved regulator'--a legal carrot and stick to encourage publishers to join an independent regulator that meets certain minimum standards.

At the same time, a consortium of major news publishers has taken steps to set up a new Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) with beefed-up powers of oversight and enforcement. A draft constitution has been published and is being considered by over 200 newspaper/magazine publishers.

What does the summary of responses to the ICO consultation tell you about the future role of the ICO?

The Leveson Report made a number of proposals regarding t

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