DCSIMG

Leveson inquiry: ‘Inquiry did its job but Prime Minister has failed to do his’

The parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Picture: PA

The parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Picture: PA

  • by TOM PETERKIN
 

THE victims of newspaper intrusion, including the families of Milly Dowler and Madeleine McCann, have hit out at David Cameron for not embracing statutory regulation.

Those who had suffered at the hands of the press said they agreed with the Leveson recommendations and welcomed Lord Leveson’s condemnation of the behaviour of sections of the press.

But Professor Brian Cathcart, of pressure group Hacked Off, said that while Lord Justice Leveson had done his job, the Prime Minister had not.

“After a thorough and wide-ranging investigation, Lord Justice Leveson has produced a thorough, balanced and powerful report,” said the director of the group which has represented phone-hacking victims, including the actor Hugh Grant and comedian Steve Coogan.

“This contains a balanced package of measures designed to protect press freedom and to give proper recognition to the rights of victims of press abuse. Hacked Off is the voice of those victims. Lord Justice Leveson has done his job.

“He has given the Prime Minister a workable, proportionate and reasonable solution to the problems of press abuse.

“The Prime Minister has not done his job. His failure to 
accept the full recommendations of the report is unfortunate and regrettable.”

The lawyer for the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose phone was hacked by a private detective commissioned by the News of the World, also expressed his 
displeasure.

Reacting to the report summarising the inquiry set up by Mr Cameron in response to the Milly Dowler hacking, Mark Lewis said: “Cautious optimism lasted for about 45 minutes and then the Prime Minister spoke and said he is not going to 
implement a report that he 
instigated.”

Dominic Crossley, who represented the families of Milly Dowler and Madeleine McCann during the inquiry, said the victims wanted “a better and more responsible press because they recognise its value. They are just a small selection of the hundreds of other people who have been the victims of smears, bullies and attention”.

Kate McCann, the mother of Madeleine, who went missing in Portugal in 2007, was at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster for the publication of the report. She said she hoped the end of the Leveson inquiry would mark the start of a new era for the press, adding: “I hope the Prime Minister, and all the party leaders, will embrace the report and act swiftly to ensure activation of Lord Leveson’s recommendations within an acceptable and clearly defined timescale.”

In his report, Lord Leveson was damning about the way some people had been treated at the hands of the press.

People who found themselves in the public eye for reasons “beyond their control” were treated as “commodities”, left with no rights to privacy, dignity or basic respect, he said.

The report looked at the ordeals suffered by Milly and Madeleine’s parents as well as Christopher Jeffries, the schoolmaster wrongly arrested in connection with the murder of Joanna Yates. Their cases were examples of the “most egregious, unethical journalistic conduct”.

Others mentioned were Hugh Grant and the former prime minister Gordon Brown.

Bob and Sally Dowler gave moving evidence to the inquiry about their treatment at the hands of the press following the disappearance of their daughter.

They were given false hope that their daughter was still alive because her mobile phone was hacked by journalists and voicemails deleted.

“Mr and Mrs Dowler were subjected to intrusive and insensitive press reporting at a time of intense personal distress,” the report said.

 

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