Leveson Inquiry: The letter sent by JK Rowling, Hugh Grant and other victimes to David Cameron
Dear Prime Minister, We are individual victims of the unlawful and unethical conduct of the press in recent years.
This conduct has included phone hacking, industrial scale data-mining, bribery of public officials, inappropriate contact with politicians, computer hacking, unlawful invasions of privacy, blackmail threats and harassment.
It has also involved a shameful conspiracy to cover up many of these misdeeds. No public interest justification has ever been credibly advanced for these abuses. When you set up the Leveson Inquiry, we welcomed your action. The government appeared to be taking seriously the unchecked abuse of ordinary people by parts of the press. It also appeared genuinely to be concerned about the damage done to public trust in politicians and the police and, indeed, in the important role in a democratic society played by ethical public interest journalism.
We accepted at face value your expression of regret at what had happened, both under your watch and that of previous governments … we also welcomed your remarks, made in the House of Commons, that “We will never solve this if we try to do it on a party basis; we must try to do it on a cross-party basis,” and that “We must at all times keep the real victims at the front and centre of this debate”. (Hansard 13 July 2011: column 320).
We were further reassured by what you said about us when you gave evidence at the inquiry: “I’ve read some of the evidence that’s been put forward, and frankly some of that evidence is incredibly shocking … the test of the system is: is it going to provide proper protection to ordinary families who, through no fault of their own, get caught up in these media maelstroms and get completely mistreated …” (Transcript, 14 June 2011, page 57-8)
When it comes to this “test”, you will be aware that the victims, after reflecting on the evidence put before the inquiry … made a submission which gives our view on the proposal for continued self-regulation put forward on behalf of some in the press by Lord Hunt and Lord Black. We do not believe these proposals are satisfactory in themselves, that they meet the needs of the victims, or that they will restore public trust.
We have therefore been distressed by the reports in the press (the Times, 31 August 2012), supported by comments made by senior members of your party, that you have already made up your mind and that you were “preparing to reject statutory intervention in the regulation of the press, even if it is strongly recommended by Lord Justice Leveson”.
We were also frustrated to see that your own head of communications, asked to reject the assertions in these stories, refused to do so, stating only that the reports were “speculation”. In the absence of rebuttal from you or your office, it is noteworthy that the Times (5 September 2012) felt able to repeat the story the following week, stating: “David Cameron is likely to reject statutory intervention in regulation of the press even if it is recommended by Lord Justice Leveson.”
It is highly regrettable to us that these articles, and supporting comments from senior Conservative Party figures, have sought to undermine the work of the inquiry and to threaten any recommendations it may make for effective regulation of the industry.
We therefore seek your reassurance that: 1 Contrary to the reports which we refer to above, you will consider the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson with an open mind; 2 You have not already decided in favour of a proposal for continued self-regulation – which we believe to be unsatisfactory; 3 You will proceed on a cross-party basis; 4 That you stand by what you said at the inquiry.
CHARLOTTE CHURCH, JACQUI HAMES, JAMES AND MARGARET WATSON, CHRISTOPHER JEFFERIES, MARK COVELL, PAUL DADGE, JK ROWLING, PROF JOHN TULLOCH, IAN HURST, JANE WINTER, JOAN HAMMELL, HUGH GRANT, BRIAN PADDICK, SHERYL GASCOIGNE, SIMON HUGHES, MAX MOSLEY, JUDE LAW AND OTHERS The above is an abridged text
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