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Lord Leveson Report Released; Egypt's Legislative Council Voting on Constitution Draft; U.N. to Vote on Enhanced Status for Palestinian Territories
Aired November 29, 2012 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, and welcome to NEWS STREAM, where world news and technology meet. And we begin in Britain, which is preparing for the release of a landmark report into the newspaper industry. We'll bring you the findings of the Leveson Inquiry within the hour. Also ahead, will a vote on a new constitution prevent further scenes like this? Egyptian president prepares to tackle a growing crisis in his country. And bridging the worlds of digital and physical -- the little printer that could.
In about half an hour, a report will be released, which is likely to have landmark repercussions for British media, politicians and police. The Leveson Inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron last year to investigate the culture, process and ethics of the British press. Now, politicians, journalists and A-list celebrities have all given evidence, and now, millions of dollars and 2,000 pages later, we will hear recommendations on how the British press should be regulated and how reforms could be made.
Now, here are Bob and Sally Dowler, and their story is the reason the Leveson Inquiry was established. After their 13-year old daughter Milly disappeared in 2002, Mrs. Dowler called the girl's phone. And they thought their daughter had picked up her voice mail and was still alive. They later discovered that she had been murdered, and the messages had been intercepted by a Sunday tabloid. And what happened next was unprecedented. Dan Rivers reports.
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the ink dries on Lord Justice Leveson's report, it's difficult to imagine a more anticipated document for the British newspaper industry. The machinery of government is preparing to enforce some or all of his recommendations. This could be the greatest shake-up of Britain's newspaper industry since the invention of the printing press.
(on camera): So, how did we get here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let's deal with the first point first.
RIVERS: Leveson first looked to tabloid excess, "The News of the World's" hacking of the phone of a murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, and other intrusive behavior.
PAUL MCMULLAN, JOURNALIST: The hacking of Milly Dowler's phone was not a bad thing for a journalist, a well-meaning journalist who was only trying to help find the girl.
HUGH GRANT, ACTOR: That has been a section of our press that has become allowed to become toxic over the last 20 or 30 years.
SALLY DOWLER, MURDERED GIRL'S MOTHER: And I mind, rang her phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SALLY DOWLER: And it clicked through onto her voice mail, so I heard her voice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SALLY DOWLER: And I was -- it was -- it was just such a -- she picked up her voicemail, Bob, she's alive.
KATE MCCANN, MISSING GIRL'S MOTHER : And I felt totally violated. And, you know, I'd written these words, I'm so - this is the most desperate time in my life.
RIVER: But there was also scrutiny of journalists and the police. So, was it a question of cash and vine flowing as information leaked?
JOHN YATES, FMR. ASST. POLICE COMM.: It was being very (inaudible), yes. But when a bottle was shared with several people, but no, not in the sense that you are suggesting.
JEFF EDWARDS, JOURNALIST: Would some of them was, you know, like to go and relax over a glass of vine.
JACQUI HAMES, FMR. POLICE OFFICER: It becomes by a human nature, a gentleman's drinking pub, and that's what it was for many years.
SEAN O'NEILL, JOURNALIST: I think it's quite important for senior crime journalists to be able to meet senior police officers and talk openly and freely.
PAUL STEPHENSON, FMR. POLICE COMM.: Every journalist I'd ever met, they would be delighted if I was indiscreet. It was my job to ensure I wasn't.
RIVERS: Finally, Leveson asked, do the press barons, particularly Rupert Murdoch, really have a stranglehold over British politicians.
RUPERT MURDOCH, NEW CORP. CEO: I've never asked the prime minister for anything.
GORDON BROWN, FMR. UK PRIME MINISTER: I've never asked the newspaper for the support directly, and I've never complained when they haven't given us the support.
DAVID CAMERON, UK PRIME MINISTER: There was no overt deal for support, there was no covert deal, there was no nods and winks.
TONY BLAIR, FMR. UK PRIME MINISTER: I don't know a policy that we changed as a result of --of Rupert Murdoch.
MURDOCH: And we've never pushed our commercial interests on newspapers.
JOHN PRESCOTT, FMR. DEP. PRIME MINISTER: I've always thought it was wrong; the politicians at the highest level were just too close to Murdoch.
RIVERS: There is an old phrase in these papers -- publish and be damned.
But these long inquiry has left an indelible stain on Britain's press. The contents of this report might damn many who have ink in their veins, and it will probably recommend a press regulator with teeth, with the power to stem and punish tabloid excesses.
Dan Rivers, CNN, London.
STOUT: And the leaders of Britain's three main political parties want to see improvements as a result of the Leveson Inquiry. But it's important to know that the scope of the report will be limited to newspapers. Broadcast media, for example, has not been under scrutiny. It is regulated by the independent body Ofcom. What is, perhaps, more pertinent, however is what Lord Leveson has called "the elephant in the room" -- Internet media. Now, this is the "Mail" online, soon to be the most visited newspaper Web site in the world. And the site's editor, Martin Clarke, has accused Leveson of, quote, "obsessing over newspapers and ignoring the fact that they are competing against the Internet and social media." And he suggests that newspapers could become irrelevant if over-regulated. And he gave the example of the actor and author Stephen Fry, who he says can reach more people in an hour than a newspaper or its Web site can, because he has millions of Twitter followers, but none of that is being addressed in the Leveson report.
Now, turning to Egypt. President Mohamed Morsi enraged many Egyptians last week when he issued a decree extending his powers until a new constitution is approved. And that has touched off a wave of protests in Tahrir Square and elsewhere. Witnesses say that clashes are taking place near the square today, blocking off access around the nearby U.S. embassy, which has since been closed. And meanwhile, the council responsible for drawing up the new constitution is now voting on the final draft. Reza Sayah joins us now live from Cairo with more. And Reza, first of all, what precisely is being voted on today? Do we know any details of this draft constitution?
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is a critical day, Kristie, and the future of Egypt is at stake. As we speak, Egypt's constitutional assembly is voting on the draft of the all-important new constitution for Egypt. This is going to be the backbone of Egypt's democratic transition. Once this draft is voted on by this panel, then in about two weeks, there is going to be a nationwide referendum, and the people of Egypt would either vote yes or no on this constitution.
Now, this constitution, this draft of this document is one of the reasons why President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had been at war with opposition factions. Initially, this was a 100-member panel that was assigned to draft this constitution. But there was a lot of conflict, it was dominated by Islamists. Liberal members, some of them quit in protest, some sued to disband the panel and start over. Of course, you'll recall one of President Morsi's decrees last week banned any authority, even the judiciary from disbanding it. Essentially, his position is the democratic process must move forward with the drafting of this constitution, and the president of Muslim Brotherhood also pointed out, Kristie, that once this referendum takes place in two weeks, after the panel approves the draft today, all those controversial decrees that fueled the outrage of the opposition factions, they will be immediately annulled. The Muslim Brotherhood, the president hoping that would calm down some of the outrage. We'll see how the opposition reacts. Kristie.
STOUT: Yeah, as the vote of this draft constitution is happening, as you say, right now, word of that must be getting out to Tahrir Square. And if you look behind you, what is the reaction? Is it having any impact on the protesters and the tense situation on the streets?
SAYAH: Well, there is a few thousand people still here, especially those who pitched tents, who've been out here, camped out over the past several days. And I think like the rest of Egypt, they are eagerly waiting to see what happens. I think all indications are that this panel is going to approve the draft of this constitution, and then a couple of weeks, the people behind us, they are going to have an opportunity to vote for this constitution. And the Brotherhood's position, the president's position is, this is what democracy is all about. That they've been working on the draft of this constitution since June. A number of liberal members have left in protest, but the Brotherhood's position is, they'll still consider their concerns, and, you know what, this is what democracy is, and let's look for the vote. Obviously, many of the opposition factions believe that they've been squeezed and sidelined by this process. And we'll see how they react to today's vote.
STOUT: Yeah, so many questions. The details of the draft constitution, of course, how the people of Egypt will react to it. We'll be sure to talk again. Reza Sayah joining us live from Cairo. Thank you.
You are watching NEWS STREAM, and still to come, this was Syria's first man in space. Later, he was a top gun with the country's air force. And just ahead, Muhammed Faris tells us that Syrian pilots bombing civilians sometimes have no choice but to follow orders.
Plus, this could be a big date for supporters of Palestinian statehood thanks to a key United Nations vote.
And in a matter of minutes, we'll know if it'll be a case of publish and be damned for Britain's newspapers. We'll be live in London as the Leveson Inquiry report into UK media ethics is unveiled.
STOUT: Now, Syrian rebels, they appear to have dealt a major blow to President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Since Tuesday night, they claimed to have shot down one military plane and two government helicopters. That could bolster their battle against the regime, which has carried out a relentless bombing campaign. The claims of success follow the capture of a key Syrian air force installation last week. Rebel fighters reported finding more than 300 Soviet era anti-aircraft missiles, heavy machine guns, rockets, even tanks.
Anti-aircraft weapons in the hands of rebels is, no doubt, a frightening prospect for regime pilots. Despite the increasing danger, many have no choice but to follow orders, as Nick Paton Walsh explains.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a week, regime air bases and military outposts have fallen daily. Rebels now focusing on besieging the bases from where the regime projects its brutal force. That's put Bashar al-Assad's vital air power under the most pressure yet. They've killed many civilians, yet all these rebel advances affecting them.
We asked pilots Mohamed Faris, known to Syrians as their first man in space. A teacher to many Syrian pilots at a key academy, he defected in August. In Istanbul, he told us, pilots would only bomb civilian areas indiscriminately if ordered to.
GEN. MUHAMMED FARIS, ASTRONAUT, EX-SYRIAN AIR FORCE (through translator): It is destruction for the sake of destruction. For example, they are asked to target a neighborhood, not a particular place. However, there is no accuracy.
WALSH: Random destruction that makes capture the worst fate for the helicopters' crew. This one caught by extremists. It's unclear what's happened to them.
But life on some air bases, we are told, is also terrifying. The fear of defection means pilots' families are held as sort of a hostage while they fly.
FARIS: The problem isn't how many planes work, it's how many pilots are left that are trusted to fly. They are held captive on their bases, some even with their families, so they are not able to defect. There is a large number who the regime doesn't trust to fly, in case they escape with the plane to neighboring countries.
WALSH: Rebels say gangs bring new weapons, like these surface-to-air missiles probably seized from the regime here near Aleppo on Tuesday. They appear to be launched to devastating effect, though it's hard to prove.
UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!
WALSH: But damaging too, the constant bombing runs these aircraft have made. They need spare parts, and as winter sets in, will be increasingly disabled by something as simple as bad weather.
FARIS: A plane has a set number of hours that it can fly. So the recent increase in their use decreases the hours they have left in their life span. When there is rain, clouds and fog and winter, it affects the planes and the pilots. The type of planes we have aren't able to bomb so well in bad weather.
WALSH: Difficulties that give rebels a chance in winter to speed their march on Damascus. These men capturing another base too close to its center for regime comfort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Allahu akbar!
WALSH: After months of stalemate, the narrative of this war finally changing. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Beirut.
STOUT: Turning now to another flash point in the struggle for peace in the Middle East -- the question of a Palestinian state. Territory looks set to clinch a diplomatic victory in its quest for recognition when the United Nations votes on its official status later today. So, what does it mean? Now, the Palestinians have had permanent observer status at the U.N. since 1974. It's a position which is undefined in U.N.'s Charter. But later today, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on whether to upgrade that status to a non-member observer state -- an implicit in recognition of Palestinian statehood. With more on what it all means, CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in the West Bank. He joins us now live from Ramallah. And Fred, if Palestinians are granted enhanced status, is it just symbolic or will it affect the situation on the ground and the Mideast peace process?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie. Well, this is something that is largely symbolic. However, there are some real implications. I mean, the big difference is that now the Palestinians would have a state with an actual territory, it would be East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza -- and, of course, parts of those territories are currently occupied by Israeli settlements. That is certainly something that internationally, diplomatically, will put pressure on the Israelis. And also, many Palestinians, who here have been holding rallies in the West Bank throughout the day to support the motion to go to the U.N. and ask for that enhanced status, they say it could be a first step to full state recognition down the line. Let's listen to what some people who attended the rally today had to say:
UF: I'm a Palestinian. I should live in Palestine. Not only a country, it's not -- it's not a country occupied by Israel, no, we are Palestinians. And having a state called Palestine would prove our existence, because it is only unbearable to have myself as un -- my existence is not -- is not proved worldwide. This is unacceptable. This is unbearable. This is not human!
UF: This is the best day for us. Hopefully, it will continue, and to have our place in the United--
UM: Palestine will be established today. We are very happy. We are looking for our freedom, for establish a democratic and Palestinian -- and Palestinian state.
PLEITGEN: So, as you can see, Kristie, some very strong opinions there at that rally earlier today. We are expecting the rally to pick up again in the evening hours, when, of course, that U.N. General Assembly happens with the speech by Mahmoud Abbas, and then that vote on the enhanced status of the Palestinians.
Another very real possible implication is, of course, that this non-member observer state Palestine could then try to drag Israel in front of the International Criminal Court for perceived war crimes, perhaps, from past military operations. So that's something that has caused a lot of stir in the international community. The U.S., of course, is very much against this move. Needless to say that Israel is against it as well, and that it even threatened retribution if this vote goes through. So, there are some very real implications to all of it. By and large, however, it is mostly a symbolic move. Kristie.
STOUT: Now, a number of countries are against this move, but a number of countries are for it. Could the recent conflict in Gaza be a factor here? Could -- could certain member nations at the U.N. see the vote as a way to boost the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, and so he could be a counterweight to Hamas?
PLEITGEN: Well, that's, yeah, that's -- that's absolutely been one of the factors as well, and certainly there have been some in the Palestinian Authority who have said that, if in fact this vote doesn't go through, it would be very detrimental to the Palestinian Authority, which, of course, technically is also the government of Gaza as well. They say that it could bolster Hamas, as Hamas has gained a lot of popularity not just in Gaza, but also in the West Bank and in other places among Palestinians after that military campaign it waged against the Israelis. So, certainly, that is something where some people believe that it is something where it's very necessary to bolster the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, because he had lost a lot of it in the past couple of months.
As you mentioned, there are some very prominent countries who are in favor of this move. The most prominent, probably, and strongest country has been France. A number of other countries said they will abstain. But it seems quite certain that they will get the majority needed to push this motion through, Kristie.
STOUT: All right. Fred Pleitgen joining us live from Ramallah. Thank you.
And you are watching NEWS STREAM. And still to come, the big idea behind a little printer. We'll talk to the man behind the project taking the virtual and making it physical again. Creating customized printouts of your favorite Web content.
STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM. And here on NEWS STREAM, we've always been fans of new technology, but no matter how convenient technology may be, sometimes it's hard to beat an old-fashioned book or a newspaper. Now, one company is trying to combine the two -- taking the digital world and bringing it into the real world.
Now, it is the little printer. It scours the Internet for you, and will print out content that you are interested in. So, think of it like a custom newspaper except it's the size of a receipt. But could this device actually be taking us a step backwards? Let's talk about the man behind the machine, Matt Webb, is the CEO at the design studio Berg, and he joins us now live from our London studio. Thank you so much for joining us, and Matt, you must be using the little printer. So, what do you use it for?
MATT WEBB, CEO, BERG: Personally, the one I have in my hand, on a bit of a pro-activity note, so I use this, this is a printout of my Google calendar. So everyday, I get my schedule. And I can see at a glance where I have to be, who I'm speaking to, all those kind of things.
STOUT: Nice application there. Now with little printer, aren't we taking a step backwards? I mean, why turn something digital into a physical printout?
WEBB: First of all, you just have to look at that cute little face. Wouldn't you want that in your home?
WEBB: You know, look at him now. Really, what's it about, you know, when I come into the office every day, I write down my to-do list on a post-it note. Because, you know, small phones are great, but there is so much going on there, it goes out of my mind as soon as I close the app. When I'm at home, I make notes of shopping lists, when my friends have birthdays. With little printer, all of that is brought to me automatically. And so, when I come in to work, my to-do list is there, and there is a hook-up to Facebook, so I can see which of my friends have a birthday this week, and I can leave that stuck to my fridge or carry around with me in my wallet. So, it's a kind of a memory, I suppose, that is the power of paper.
STOUT: Yeah, but I could see that, and I'm also a fan of post-it, so -- so I totally agree. But then, I like being digital. Because I can stay flexible. I can keep my data in the cloud, I can access it any time, anywhere. Also, I like to be smug and say that I'm saving trees. How do you convince someone like me to embrace a mini printer?
WEBB: I think little printer is the beginning of a trend, which is mixing online and off-line. At the moment, you know, we access the Internet through our tablets, or smartphones, or our PCs. And we have (ph) believed that Internet should not be trapped behind glass. It should be in all kinds of devices, all over our homes. Little printer is the first one of these devices, which brings information from the cloud and makes it physical, material in the places we really need it. It's the front room, the office, hotel rooms, those kinds of things. Paper for us is just a start. We are thinking of all kinds of displays that we could bring information right where you need it.
STOUT: It's an interesting concept, you know, that analogue and digital don't need to be mutually exclusive. Now, I understand, with your device, you can form out your content specifically for the little printer and you can create basically a newspaper of me, a tailored newspaper. Is this a glimpse into the future of publishing?
WEBB: A little bit. I think there's always going to be a place for beautifully designed magazines and editorialized content. But one of the things is that everyone is different, and the beautiful thing about the web is that content is being unbundled, and can be put together in a way that's really appropriate to you. So for us, we use a smart phone app that lets people go onto the Web site, the Berg cloud web site, and subscribe to whatever content they want. So I subscribe to a little short fiction, the Google calendar, these birthdays, a bit of news, some weather, those kinds of things. And nobody else will have that same combination of content. I think we see some -- some other content like that. A lot of people, their use of Twitter is following the new sources on a celebrity's day. Everyone has a different experience. And little printer is part of that trend, too.
STOUT: Well, it's an interesting concept that explores how we relate to technology. Matt Webb. Thank you so much for joining us. Good luck.
WEBB: Thank you.
STOUT: You are watching NEWS STREAM. And still ahead, the British press awaits the Leveson report. It is just moments away from being released. We got full coverage, straight ahead.
STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You are watching NEWS STREAM, and these are the world headlines.
In just moments from now, we will see the release of a report that could change the face of Britain's media and its relations with politicians and the police. Now, the report will present the findings of the Leveson Inquiry set up to investigate the culture and ethics of the British press, following the country's tabloid newspaper phone hacking scandal. So, stay with us for live coverage.
Now, in Egypt, demonstrators continue to protest against President Mohamed Morsi as the council charged with drafting the country's new constitution is now voting on a final draft. Mr. Morsi's extended powers will expire once the new constitution has been fully approved.
Now, Syrian rebels appear to have dealt a blow to President Bashar al-Assad military. They say they have shot down three military aircraft in 24 hours. That is, as activists say, fighting across Syria claimed 160 lives on Wednesday.
A new video has emerged showing convicted mass murder Anders Breivik just moments before he detonated a bomb in Oslo last year. Now, the footage shows Breivik driving up in a van, calmly walking away, and then the explosion and the aftermath.
The Oslo bomb killed eight people and was the beginning of a killing spree that would claim the lives of 69 more victims on Utoya Island.
A British soldier is about to get his day in court: Sergeant Danny Nightingale is serving an 18-month prison sentence for illegally possessing a gun. He said it was a gift from the Iraqi soldier he had trained. And today, his appeal will be heard in a London court. Matthew Chance takes a closer look at the case.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was when he was training Iraqi forces in 2007 that Sergeant Nightingale was presented with a pistol by the man who had meant to pass it on to his regimen, the SAS, as a war trophy, but when two of his comrades were killed in a helicopter crash, he was sent back to Britain to organize the funerals. His kit, including the gun, was packed up and sent on behind him. When the weapon was discovered by military police years later, it was still in its unopened box. Gun possession is illegal in Britain. He was convicted this month, and he is serving an 18-month prison sentence. But former comrades say they are outraged at his treatment.
COL. TIM COLLINS, FORMER SAS OPERATIONS OFFICER: First of all, the pistol shouldn't have been packed on his behalf in the first place. Secondly, an existing operation called Operation Plunder exists to ensure that such things don't leave operational theaters. So that failed. And finally, the fact that it was found and no one listened to his explanation, and no one from the high ranks of the military intervened in this case, to try and bring some common sense to it, is a failure as well.
CHANCE: The case has already been debated in the British parliament. The government says it's a matter for the courts to decide, but Sergeant Nightingale's wife has lobbied the British government to intervene and says it's crucial for all British service personnel that the ruling is overturned.
SALLY NIGHTINGALE, WIFE OF. SGT. DANNY NIGHTINGALE: These men and women are fighting to serve our country. They put themselves in some hostile situations, very dangerous situations, and if the case is like this, it's not going to help the morale of those serving-- you know, members of our country.
CHANCE: It's a case now being examined in the court of appeal, raising questions about how Britain treats its veterans, and how, in the eyes of many, one loyal soldier was betrayed.
Matthew Chance, CNN London.
STOUT: Let's get the forecast in Europe now, and it's cold, wind, rain and snow. Details with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the World Weather Center. Mari.
MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, you nailed that forecast right there, Kristie. That's about right. You know what? We are looking at some of the coldest temperatures of the season, we've been telling you that for the last couple of days, across Western Europe, but the reason this is a big deal is because there is just a big weather system here across the central portion of Europe that is affecting millions of people.
Look at this. Here in Southern France, wind gusts are of a hurricane force, at 100, almost 150 kilometers per hour. That's pretty impressive. Marseilles has had a wind, I'd say, it's 90 kilometers per hour already. This is cold, northerly, dry wind that continues to blow there.
Zurich, big trouble delays right now. Eight centimeters of snow so far. You could probably get another ten centimeters of snow easily across Switzerland, Zurich included, by the way. And then look at the rainfall over here. In Montenegro, in the last 24 hours, they've had 150 millimeters of rain. This is pretty impressive stuff, and the thing is, that it's going to stick around.
Yesterday, we had that tornado. Did you see the video? We started showing it to you yesterday. And take a look at these pictures very quickly, because this is very impressive indeed. And this is another angle of that tornado, injured 20 people in an industrial park of Taranto in Italy. This is in the southeastern corner of Italy. This is a port city, and you can see there the debris just flying around. If you look closer, you'll see flashes of light, the transformers blowing up, and people, of course, you know, paralyzed in fear in many cases. The person taking this video eventually did try to get kind of a -- seek shelter, so to speak, inside a vehicle, which by the way, wouldn't have protected him very much had the tornado actually reached him, which it didn't. They were very, very fortunate. Come back over to the weather map over here. It's just so scary.
So, you have that big area of low pressure, a lot of cool air in place, a lot of moisture getting pulled up from the Mediterranean. So where it's not raining, it's snowing. And that has been a huge concern. Very windy, as well. I was telling you about that. Look at Marseilles, sustained almost at 70 kilometers per hour, 52 kilometers per hour winds in Rome. Athens, at 31. So, this is pulling up a lot of moisture to areas to the north, and because it's so cold across the northern portions here, like I was saying, where it's not raining, it's snowing heavily. And if you look at Germany, that's a perfect example. You have snow, that's the white stuff, then the pink is the snow mixing in with rain, and then you have the rain, which is the blue that you see here on the radar, and then these areas with the yellows and the reds, those are storms, Kristie, that are starting to form across that region. Back to you.
STOUT: All right. Mari Ramos there. Thank you. And now let's take your straight to London and the release of the Leveson report on the press culture practice and ethics. Let's listen in.
LORD JUSTICE LEVESON: -- It was sparked by public revulsion about a single act-- the hacking of the mobile phone of a murdered teenager. From that beginning, it has expanded to cover the culture, practices and ethics of the press and its conduct in relations to the public, the police and politicians.
This inquiry has been the most concentrated look at the press this country has ever seen. In nearly nine months of aural hearings, 337 witnesses gave evidence in person. And the statements of nearly 300 others were read into the record. I'm grateful to all who have contributed.
The report will now be published on the inquiry Web site, which also carries the statements, exhibits and both transcripts and video coverage of the evidence.
For over 40 years, as a barrister and a judge, I have watched the press in action, day after day in the courts in which I have practiced. I know how vital the press is, all of it, as guardian of the interests of the public, as a critical witness to events, as the standard bearer for those who have no one else to speak up for them.
Nothing in the evidence I have heard or read has changed that view. The press operating freely and in the public interest is one of the true safeguards of our democracy. As a result, it holds a privileged and powerful place in our society. But this power and influence carries with it responsibilities to the public interest in whose name it exercises these privileges. Unfortunately, as the evidence has shown beyond doubt, on too many occasions those responsibilities, along with the editor's code of conduct, which the press wrote and promoted, have simply been ignored. This has damaged the public interest, caused real hardship, and on occasion wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people.
What the press do and say is no ordinary exercise of free speech. It operates very differently from blogs on the Internet and other social media such as Twitter. Its impact is uniquely powerful. A free press in a democracy holds power to account, but with a few honorable exceptions, the UK press has not performed that vital role in the case of its own power.
None of this, however, is to conclude that press freedom in Britain, hard won over 300 years ago, should be jeopardized. On the contrary, it should not. I remain firmly of the belief that the British press, I repeat, all of it, serves the country very well for the vast majority of the time. There are truly countless examples of great journalism, great investigations and great campaigns. Not that it is necessary or appropriate for the press always to be pursuing serious stories for it to be working in the public interest. Some of its most important functions are to inform, educate and entertain. And when doing so, to be irreverent, unruly and opinionated.
But none of that means that the press is beyond challenge. I know of no organized profession, industry or trade in which the serious failings of the few are overlooked or ignored because of the good done by the many. Were it so, in any other case, the press would be the very first to expose such practices.
The purpose of this inquiry has been twofold. First, it has been to do just that -- to expose precisely what has been happening. Secondly, it is to make recommendations for change. As to change, almost everyone accepts that the press complaints commission has failed in the task -- if indeed, it ever saw itself as having such a task -- of keeping the press to its responsibilities to the public generally and to the individuals unfairly damaged. There must be change.
Let me say this very clearly. Not a single witness proposed that either government or politicians, all of whom the press hold to account, should be involved in the regulation of the press. Neither would I make any such suggestions.
Let me deal very briefly with the idea that this inquiry might not have been necessary if the criminal law had simply operated more effectively. There were errors in aspects of the way the phone hacking investigation was managed in 2006 and in relations to the failure to undertake later reviews. And there are some problems that need to be fixed with the criminal and civil laws, and also in relation to data protection. In particular, exemplary damages should be available for all media torts, including breach of privacy.
In the end, however, law enforcement can never be the whole answer. As we have seen, that is because the law breaking in this area is typically hidden, with the victims generally unaware of what has happened. Even if it were possible, and it is certainly not desirable, putting a policeman in every newsroom is no sort of answer. In any event, the powers of law enforcement are significantly limited because of the privileges that the law provides to the press, including for the protection of its sources. That is specifically in order that it can perform its role in the public interest.
What is needed, therefore, is a genuinely independent and effective system of self-regulation of standards, with obligations to the public interest.
At the very start of the inquiry and throughout, I've encouraged the industry to work together to find the mechanism for independent self- regulation that would work for them and would work for the public. Lord Hunt of Wirral and Lord Black of Brentwood stepped forward to lead the effort. They put forward the idea of a model based on contractual obligations among press organizations. On Monday afternoon of this week, with the report being printed, I received two separate submissions from within the press, telling me that most of the industry was now prepared to sign self-regulation contracts. The first submission recognizes the possibility of improvements to the model proposed so far. The second expresses confidence that the model proposed by Lord Black and Lord Hunt addresses the criticisms made at the inquiry. Unfortunately, however, although this model is an improvement on the PCC, in my view it does not come close to delivering, in the words of the submission itself, quotes, "regulation that is itself genuinely free and independent, both of the industry it regulates and political control." Any model with editors on the main board is simply not independent of the industry to anything approaching the degree required to warrant public confidence. It is still the industry marking its own homework. Nor is the model proposed stable or robust for the longer term future.
The press needs to establish a new regulatory body, which is truly independent of industry leaders and of government and of politicians. It must promote high standards of journalism and protect both the public interest and the rights and liberties of individuals. It should set and enforce standards, hear individual complaints against its members and provide a fair, quick and inexpensive arbitration service to deal with civil law claims.
The chair and the other members of the body must be independent and appointed by a fair and open process. It must comprise a majority of members who are independent of the press. It should not include any serving editor or politician. That can be readily achieved by an appointments panel, which could itself include a current editor, but with a substantial majority demonstrably independent of the press and of politicians. In the report, I explain who might be involved.
Although I make some recommendations in this area, it is absolutely not my role to seek to establish a new press standards code, or to decide how an independent self-regulatory body would go about its business.
As to a standards code, I recommend the involvement of an industry committee, which could include and involve serving editors. That committee would advise the regulatory body, and there should be a process of public consultation.
In my report, I also address the need for incentives to be put in place to encourage all in the industry to sign up to this new regulatory system.
Guaranteed independence, long term stability and genuine benefits for the industry cannot be realized without legislation. So much misleading speculation and misinformation has been spread about the prospect of new legislation that I need to make a few things very clear. I'm proposing it only, only for the narrow purpose of recognizing a new independent self- regulatory system.
It is important to be clear what this legislation would not do. It would not establish a body to regulate the press. That is for the press itself to organize and to do.
So what would this legislation achieve? Three things. It would enshrine for the first time a legal duty on the government to protect the freedom of the press. Secondly, it would provide an independent process to recognize the new self-regulatory body and thereby reassure the public of its independence and efficacy. Thirdly, it would provide new and tangible benefits for the press.
As members of the body, newspapers could show that they act in good faith, and have sought to comply with standards based on the public interest. Decisions of a new recognized regulator could create precedents, which could in turn help a court in civil actions. In addition, the existence of a formally recognized free arbitration system is likely to provide a powerful argument as to costs should a claimant decide not to use that free system, or, conversely, if a newspaper is not a member.
In my view, the benefits of membership should be obvious to all. This is not and cannot reasonably or fairly be characterized as statutory regulation of the press. I am proposing independent regulation of the press, organized by the press itself, with a statutory process to support. Press freedom provides stability and guarantee for the public that this new body is independent and effective.
I firmly believe that these recommendations for self-regulation are in the best interests of the public and the press. 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. What is more, given the public interest role of which the press is rightly proud, I do not think that either the victims I have heard from or the public in general would accept anything less.
Turning to the police. The relationship between the police and public is vital to the essential requirements of policing by consent. And the press have a very important part to play in its promotion. Although there has been a limit on how far it has been possible for the inquiry to go, because of the need not to prejudice any ongoing investigations, whatever Operation Elveden concerning corrupt payments to officials might reveal, I have not seen any evidence to suggest that corruption by the press is a widespread problem in relation to the police. However, while broadly endorsing the approach of recent reviews into police governance, I have identified a number of issues that I recommend should be addressed.
As for the press and politicians, the overwhelming evidence is that relations on a day-to-day basis are in robust, good health. And performing the vital public interest functions of a free press in a vigorous democracy. Every day, interactions between journalists and politicians cause no concern. But senior politicians across the spectrum have accepted that in number of respects, the relationship between politics and the press has been too close.
What I'm concerned about is a particular kind of lobbying conducted out of the public eye through the relationships of policy makers and those in the media who stand to gain or lose from the policy being considered. That gives rise to the understandable perception that the power of the press to affect political fortunes may be used to influence that policy. This, in turn, undermines public trust and confidence in decisions on media matters being taken genuinely in the public interest.
This is a long-standing issue, one which over the years and across the political spectrum has repeatedly resulted in opportunities being missed to respond appropriately to legitimate public concern about press behavior.
The press is, of course, entitled to lobby in its own interests, whether editorially or through the senior political access it enjoys. It is, however, the responsibility of the politicians to ensure the decisions that are taken are seen to be based on the public interest as a whole. This means the extent to which they are lobbied by the press should be open and transparent, and that the public should therefore have a basic understanding of the process.
In this limited area, I have recommended that consideration should be given to a number of steps to create greater transparency about these influential relationships at the top of politics and the media. And so address the issue of public perception, and, hence, trust and confidence.
A good start would be for those steps towards greater transparency to be taken in relation to press lobbying about this report.
Similar considerations apply to the role of ministers when taking decisions about the public interest in relation to media ownership. I believe that democratically accountable ministers are the right people to make these decisions. However, I have made recommendations as to how the process can be made much more transparent to ensure that in future, there should be no risk even of the perception of bias.
It is essential that the UK retains a plural media with a genuine diversity of ownership, approach and perspective. In my opinion, the competition authorities should have the means to keep levels of plurality under review and be equipped with a full range of remedies to deal with concerns.
I must now place on record my thanks to all who participated in the inquiry. These are the assessors who advise in areas of their expertise, and who were selected by the government with the support of the leader of the opposition. In the prime minister's words, and I quote, "For their complete independence from all interested parties." Robert Jay and Counsel (ph) for collating and presenting such a massive volume of evidence so efficiently. Everyone in the inquiry team who's worked so hard to achieve so much in such limited time. The core participants and their lawyers. And most of all, the public who have provided evidence, views and submissions.
As I said at the beginning, this is the seventh time in less than 70 years that these issues have been addressed. No one can think that it makes any sense to contemplate an eighth. I hope that my recommendations will be treated in exactly the same cross-party spirit which led to the setting up of the inquiry in the first place and will lead to a cross-party response.
I believe that the report can and must speak for itself. To that end, I will be making no further comment. Nobody will be speaking for me about its contents, either now or in the future. The ball moves back into the politicians court. They must now decide who guards the guardians.
Thank you all very much.
STOUT: That was Judge Brian Leveson on the inquiry into press ethics and the report that will fundamentally change the media landscape in the UK. Now, for more, let's go to our Dan Rivers, standing by in London. And Dan, we heard just then from Judge Leveson, he said there must be change. So walk us through his recommendations.
RIVERS: Well, I think that the headline, obviously, is -- is this mechanism he is proposing to regulate the press going forward. Independent regulation of the press, organized by the press, but with a statutory verification to ensure its independence. So, it would be basically underpinned by legislation, that there would be some sort of body set up with an independent chairman and a board, independently appointed, but most of the board, he said, would not be members of the press or editors of newspapers. And that legislative underpinning would ensure, first of all, that the government has a legal duty to protect the freedom of press, but also to ensure that the public are reassured about the independence and effectiveness of this regulation. And it would also validate the standards code, which would be drawn up by - partly by the press themselves. This new body would have the power to fine newspapers if they breached the code up to $1.6 million dollars. There is a suggestion of a certain tight marker (ph), a stamp of approval for papers that are signed up to this body, showing that they are a sort of recognized brand of trusted journalism, and the body would have the power to direct the nature, extent and placement of apologies. So if a newspaper seemed to have published something that was wrong or malicious in some way, this body could say, right, put your apology on the front page tomorrow morning.
He said it should all include all major news suppliers. The problem is, how do you force people to sign up? Well, really, a set of incentives is set out by him, financial incentives suggesting that if they are not a member of this scheme, that they could be liable to much greater costs in civil litigation than if they were a member of this scheme, and for example, they could be deprived of having their legal costs paid for, even if they are successful in civil litigation if they weren't a member of this scheme.
Also, a whistle-blowing hotline for journalists who feel that they are being asked to do underhand things, and an arbitration service to enable members of the public to get a swift and cheap form of remedy if they feel there's been harm done by the press.
STOUT: Now, Dan, at the beginning of his statement, Judge Leveson talked about how vital the press is, and he says the industry itself should set up its own regulator. So how is that likely to go down in the British press? Will they view that as a chance for reform on their terms or still a potential threat to its freedom?
RIVERS: I think it will be pretty bitterly opposed. I mean, he said just then that even this week, as the report was going to the publishers, to print, there were last-minute kind of lobbying from the press itself, saying that they - more of them now are willing to sign up to some form of self-regulation. This is not what the press itself was proposing. They were proposing a sort of - an advanced form of self-regulation, similar to the one that's in place but perhaps better.
He said about that, well, there are real doubts about the genuine effectiveness of enforcement mechanisms of self-regulation. He's basically saying they've had their chance to govern themselves, to regulate themselves. Now we need something completely independent. Yes, the press will have a chance to have their input on how it's run, but it will have a statutory footing, it will be recognized officially here, and he's trying to strike that delicate balance between independent regulation on the one hand and making sure that there's no suggestion that the government of the day is in some ways gagging newspapers.
STOUT: And lastly, Dan, public opinion in the UK. I mean, how many believe that press regulation has simply not been enough? They want to see more, and they will support what they heard just now from Judge Leveson.
RIVERS: Well, there is a variety of polls out, but one that was out I think yesterday was suggesting that 79 percent of the British public favored some sort of statutory regulation with the - with a legal underpinning. So I think this will be broadly popular with the British public. The question is, will it get through the houses of parliament here in the UK? Will it get the backing of politicians? There are bitter divisions, even within the governing coalition, about the way forward on all this. We understand the prime minister, David Cameron, is due to speak this afternoon. His coalition partner and deputy, Nick Clegg, from the other party in the coalition, the Liberal Democrats, is understood to have a fundamental disagreement with the prime minister about the way forward. So there are going to be big political ramifications from this as well, with politicians disagreeing about whether to implement these suggestions in full or whether to try and push on something else.
STOUT: Yes, it's a landmark report, and the story this day not over yet as we wait to hear comment from David Cameron. Dan Rivers reporting live from London for us, thank you. Now, let's go straight to my colleagues Nina Dos Santos and Ali Velshi for "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY."