In the wake of the phone hacking scandal that continues to unfold, Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson issued a 2,000 page report concerning British newspapers, their practices, and the relationships they have with politicians. The report cites News of the World in particular, and, by implication, its owner Rupert Murdoch, for unethical practices including threatening, lying to, and breaching the privacy of sources for the sake of a story, according to our partner The New York Times.
Lord Justice Leveson found that while most papers act appropriately in their highly privileged role for the majority of the time, there are practices in place that disregard the consequences they have on innocent people.
British newspapers essentially self-regulate in the current system through the Press Complaints Commission. Leveson recommends that a new body be established in its place, one that is independent of industry giants and politicians.
The result of such a change could have an enormous and lasting impact on British journalism. The report was also highly anticipated for its findings on certain relationships between government officials and news executives. The highest profile of these investigations involves correspondence between Prime Minister David Cameron and former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks.
Nadhim Zahawi is a British Conservative Member of Parliament speaking about the Leveson report and its recommendations.
"I think what we need is an independent regulator, not one that is self-regulated. I.e. the press themselves choose the board and choose who does the regulation. One with real teeth that can investigate and reprimand. And what Lord Justice Leveson is calling for is reprimands up to a million pounds for wrong-doing and there was lots wrong doing by the way." Zahawi goes on to say, "There are two issues: one, self-regulation self-evidently wasn't working... The other problem was the right of appeal for ordinary people, not wealthy politicians or footballers or movie stars like Hugh Grant..."
Speaking on how to make the regulatory body truly independent, especially in light of Prime Minister David Cameron's involvement with Rebekah Brooks, Zahawi explained that "its board, its leadership of that regulator has to be independent of both politicians and of the industry." According to the Conservative Member of Parliament, you must give the regulator "teeth" and "the way you give it teeth is by giving it a statutory underpinning."