NI editor unfazed by Leveson report

Published Thursday, 29 November 2012
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A damning report into press standards was delivered on Thursday, when Lord Leveson revealed his criticisms of the behaviour of some newspapers.

NI editor unfazed by Leveson report
The Hacked Off press conference, after the publication of the Leveson report. (© PA)

But one local newspaper editor has said the report, penned by the Appeal Judge, will not alter how his paper operates.

The Leveson report took 16 months and heard evidence from more than 600 witnesses, including the parents of murdered teenager Milly Dowler.

Revelations that journalists from the now-dissolved News of the World had hacked the schoolgirl's phone prompted the inquiry.

The 2,400 page inquiry has recommended an independent, self-regulated body should be set up to replace the Press Complaints Commission.

But Lord Leveson also called for newspapers to continue to police their own actions.

"I firmly believe that these recommendations for self-regulation are in the best interests of the press and the public they have not been influenced by any political or other agenda but based on the evidence I have heard and by what I believe is fair and right for everyone," he stated.

But Prime Minister David Cameron later told Parliament that changing the law could have a detrimental impact on the free press.

"The issue of principle is that for the first time we would have crossed the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land," he said.

"We should I believe be wary of a law which has the potential to infringe on free speech and a free press."

Newspaper chief Jim McDowell is certain the Leveson report will make no difference to how his paper, The Sunday World, runs.

"We will be subject to the same guidelines, at the end of the day the buck stops with my reporters, the buck stops with me," he told UTV.

"How we go after a story, how we pursue a story, what procedures we follow, the Editor's Code of Conduct, they will all be observed and we will continue to do our job the same way as we've always done."

Mr McDowell said the criminal courts, which currently deal with invasion of privacy, should be enough.

"The phone hacking is being dealt with by the police, rather belatedly perhaps, there are libel laws, there are privacy laws, the European privacy laws, which essentially is state subsidised censorship because people will get legal aid now to take privacy actions," he explained.

"You can be done now on a privacy action for going and knocking on someone's door, even if they might be a bogey man, a bogey woman, a paramilitary, a terrorist, a gangster, as soon as you knock their door, you can be hit with a privacy action."

© UTV News
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