Friday, 8 July 2011

The Aftermath of the NOTW Scandal

In the wake of the dramatic closure of the News of the World, and amidst the appalling allegations of phone-hacking and police corruption, David Cameron has announced a public inquiry into the range of allegations (at the NOTWS and beyond), in addition to the criminal investigations, and a further - wider - inquiry into press standards and self regulation.

His announcement this morning can be read here.

After a game-changing week, my personal reflections are threefold. First, the criminal law must be applied with full force against anyone who hacked or paid bribes, or otherwise broke the law. The issue is law enforcement - we have more than enough offences on the statute book. We need to exercise care that the media debate and inquiries do not inadvertently prejudice the criminal prosecutions.

Second, there is something rotten in the system. The allegations swirling around Westminster go well beyond the NOTW, and indeed beyond the tabloid press. If and when they are substantiated, the humiliation will not be limited to a single newspaper. That is why an independent - in my view judicial - inquiry is necessary, so that no stone is left unturned.

Third, in the urge to restore some integrity to the British media, we need to be careful not to erode free speech - and that necessitates a vibrant, even rambunctious media.


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