When considering the Leveson Report it is important to insert the word ‘national’ whenever said judge uses the word ‘press’ to describe those whose abysmal conduct brought about his inquiry in the first place.
Put simply, the LEP has never hacked your phone. Or the phone of a murdered child. Or the phone of one bereaved by said killing.
Nor, for that matter, have any of its staff ever been appointed director of communications for one of the three major political parties – despite having recently been forced to resign in disgrace – and subsequently been welcomed into top level government meetings without first being given the necessary security clearance.
Why, our editor doesn’t even enjoy an intimate friendship with the PM, up to and including flirty texts, cosy ‘kitchen suppers’ (a hithero unheard of meal format apparently exclusive to our elite) and a go on one of their horses (to the best of my knowledge no recent LEP editor has owned such a beast to loan, or had access to retired police horses for same)!
That is our national press (in fact, the above antics were all ascribed to News of the World staff, but don’t kid yourself this was a ‘bad apple’. Like Royal hacker Clive Goodman? Yeah, whatever), not its unfairly maligned regional equivalent.
The regional press does not pursue “sensational stories...irrespective of the harm that the stories may cause and the rights of those who would be affected, like the Dowlers.”
At no point during production of this LEP did we obtain or seek to obtain information by unlawful or unethical means, knowing full well these means were unlawful and unethical but emboldened to act by a management confident its proximity to power and acceptance of token self-regulation rendered them untouchable.
Which is not to say regional reporters never test boundaries. Should public interest demand – and that’s public interest, usually matters concerning those powerful, often otherwise unaccountable or impenetrable bodies, public or private, which wield influence over all our lives, rather than tittle-tattle which might merely be of interest to some of the public – reporters on titles large and small have shown themselves willing to bend the rules, confident that the story they seek to tell will provide justification for their approach.
Sadly, swathes of our national press created - then fell prey to - a market based on sensation. Striving to stay one sensation ahead of rivals it soon became necessary for them to wilfully abuse and misrepresent this public interest defence on a routine basis.
They believed (and still believe) their political clout should spare them independent scrutiny. Maybe it will. Whatever the outcome, your LEP and those countless other regional newspapers which seek no more than to both reflect and inform their
communities have nothing to fear.