The Leveson Inquiry

Culture, practices and ethics of the press

The  British Prime Minister announced a two-part inquiry investigating the role of the press and police in the phone-hacking scandal, on 13 July 2011. Lord Justice Leveson was appointed as Chairman of the Inquiry.  The first part will examine the culture, practices and ethics of the media. In particular, Lord Justice Leveson will examine the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians. He is assisted by a panel of six independent assessors with expertise in key issues being considered by the Inquiry.

The Inquiry has been established under the Inquiries Act 2005 and has the power to summon witnesses.  It is expected that a range of witnesses, including newspaper reporters, management, proprietors, police officers and politicians of all parties will give evidence under oath and in public.

It makes recommendations on the future of press regulation and governance consistent with maintaining freedom of the press and ensuring the highest ethical and professional standards. The Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press is running in four modules. These are the modules:

  1. The relationship between the press and the public and looks at phone-hacking and other potentially illegal behaviour.
  2. The relationships between the press and police and the extent to which that has operated in the public interest.
  3. The relationship between press and politicians.
  4. Recommendations for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards.

Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on 14 November 2011, saying:

“The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”

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Photo: The Guardian © Lord Justice Leveson