Subsequent developments

The Inquiry Recommendations in relation to regulation, once published, were considered in cross-party negotiations which led to agreement on and Parliamentary approval of the Royal Charter on self-regulation of the Press, closely following the terms of the Recommendations. This in turn led to the establishment of the Press Recognition Panel, which in October 2016 formally recognised its first regulator, IMPRESS.

Parliament also passed measures in the Crime and Courts Act 2013 giving effect to Recommendations on costs, arbitration and access to justice, but in 2015 the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale declined to give these effect. Their future remains uncertain. Most of the press industry rejected the Charter and instead set up IPSO, a self-regulator closely following the proposals put to the Inquiry by Lord Black and Lord Hunt, proposals rejected in the Report.

The Recommendations relating to data protection were not implemented. Part Two of the Inquiry has not yet begun.

Responses to Report

In the initial responses to the Leveson Report, the dominant issue was the use of statute to formalise and implement the recommendations relating to press regulation. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament that he welcomed the Recommendations in general but opposed Leveson's suggestion of an Act of Parliament on the grounds that this risked impinging on press freedom. See here.

Cameron's position was criticised by both Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband. Hacked Off, meanwhile, welcomed the report and its recommendations and urged all parties to ensure they were implemented in full. See here.

National newspaper editors met to discuss their response and it was reported that they agreed to 40 and rejected seven the 47 Recommendations, and that they chose to wait and see what the politicians decided on use of statute. This reported joint position was never formally confirmed. See here.

Within days, the Minister for Government Policy, Oliver Letwin, proposed using a Royal Charter instead of statute to formalise and implement the regulatory Recommendations, and this idea was ultimately accepted.

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Royal Charter

Leveson's Recommendation for a public body charged with 'recognising' regulators of news publishing ' that is, testing whether they met his criteria for independence and effectiveness ' was implemented by a Royal Charter approved by Parliament on 18 March 2013 and formally sealed on 30 October that year. See here.

In the cross-party talks that led to this agreement, it was accepted that some associated clauses of legislation were also necessary. These were Section 96 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (see here), designed to prevent future Parliamentary meddling with the Charter, and Sections 34-42 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, making provision for the legal costs incentives proposed by Leveson to encourage membership of recognised regulation.

The Charter very closely followed the Leveson Recommendations, but it was rejected by much of the press industry, who alleged that it threatened press freedom. In the course of the four-month cross-party negotiations, press representatives had tried but failed to secure a Charter on their own terms, and PressBoF, an umbrella body, sought in vain to secure a Royal Charter of its own by court action. See here.

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The sealing of the Royal Charter (see also: 'Royal Charter') led, after a lengthy appointments process, to the creation on 3 November 2014 of the Press Recognition Panel (PRP). See here.

Almost two years later, on 25 October 2016, the PRP recognised IMPRESS as a regulator of news publishing meeting the criteria set out in the Royal Charter (and derived from the Leveson Recommendations).

IMPRESS is boycotted by the national and regional press and much of the local press. Its members are small news publishers, mostly online-only.

Leading corporate news publishers assert that IMPRESS is not fully independent of political influence and they have also criticised its funding, which derives from a registered charity funded by the family of Max Mosley. Attempts to assert in court that this funding means IMPRESS is not fully independent and therefore is not entitled to recognition by the PRP have failed. See here.

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In September 2014, most of the national, regional and local press and the magazine industry created a successor body to the Press Complaints Commission (see also 'PCC') called the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). IPSO was not put forward for assessment by the Press Recognition Panel and did not seek to meet the recognition criteria derived from the Leveson Recommendations. It was intended to operate independently of the 'Section 40'.

IPSO's backers and its chair, former judge Sir Alan Moses, insist that it is independent of press influence as well as being independent of the Leveson structures which they consider to be tainted by state influence. See here.

Its critics assert that it is a weak regulator, too similar to the rejected PCC (see here).

Critics also complain that it does not meet the Leveson standards of effectiveness (see here).

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Section 40

One of the elements of legislation that accompanied the creation of the Royal Charter (see also: 'Royal Charter'), Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 gave judges the option of awarding costs against parties in civil media cases even where the judgement had been in their favour. This could be done where the relevant party had denied the other party access to a low-cost arbitration service provided by a recognised regulator of news publishers.

This measure had two main aims. The first was to improve public access to justice by ensuring that no one with a case in, say, libel or breach of privacy, could be forced to risk the very high costs associated with High Court action, but should be able to use low-cost arbitration instead. The second was to create an incentive for news publishers to join recognised regulators, so that they would not be exposed to the risk of adverse court orders. This was the only significant form of compulsion or incentive recommended in the Leveson Report, and it was strongly resisted by much of the press industry as unjust and as a threat to press freedom.

In the 2013 Act, Section 40 was covered by a commencement clause, meaning that it would enter into force when the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport considered conditions ' usually meaning administrative conditions ' to be right. In 2015, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale declared that he was not 'minded' to commence and Section 40 has not yet been commenced. In 2017, the Conservative Party election manifesto proposed repealing Section 40, but that has not happened either.

Although Sir Brian Leveson asserted that Part 2 should go ahead, in February 2018 the Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock, cancelled It, and in May 2018 an attempt to overturn the cancellation in the House of Commons failed by nine votes.

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Leveson 2

The Terms of Reference of the Leveson Inquiry foresaw two phases. The first, which took place in 2011-12, concerned itself with press ethics and practices and with recommending reforms of regulation. The second was to look at criminality in the press, its connections with politics and the police, who was responsible and how such failures of corporate governance could have occurred.

Part 2, it was always known, would be delayed because ongoing criminal proceedings made the matter sub judice. Only when all the relevant trials and appeals were over could it begin. Most of the press industry wanted Part 2 scrapped, arguing that the facts about criminality had emerged fully at the various phone hacking and bribery trials.

After the last of the relevant cases ended in 2016, the then Conservative Culture Secretary Karen Bradley announced a public consultation on whether Part 2 should go ahead and whether Section 40 (see also: 'Section 40') should be commenced. Before the outcome of this was announced, the Conservative Party manifesto for the 2017 general election declared that both should be cancelled.

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Understand all the key topics and the context behind the Inquiry's findings

Journalism & society
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Future of journalism
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Background & history
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Subsequent developments
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Ethics & abuses
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