‘Quicksand of moral relativity’
Like many other Leveson-doubters Anslow believes that there are already
in Britain criminal laws in place to deal with press abuse if „those laws areapplied with vigour and probity‟. Invoking
„public interest defence or
mitigation invariably plunges the process into the quicksand of moral
relativity so beloved of expensive lawyers‟.
What we need in the opinion of journalist Mick Hume is more freedom,not less. Author of
There is No Such Thing
As a Free Press…and we need
more than ever
(Societas, 2012), Hume believes that freedom is no
exemplar of order but „an unruly mess‟. He writes:
We should defend press freedom and freedom of expression as a bedrock liberty of acivilised society
and defend the right of a free press to be an unruly mess. That someabuse press freedom, as in the phone-hacking scandal, is no excuse for others toencroach upon it. Press freedom is not a gift to be handed down like charity only tothose deemed deserving. It is an indivisible liberty for all or none at all.
It was to be expected that commitments to such liberty, expressed bypoliticians including prime minister David Cameron, would be seen bymany as calculated to curry favour with the press. After all, Leveson andthe public learnt much about the cosying-up between governmentministers (and those of the previous, Labour government) and high-fliersin the Murdoch empire such as former
editor Rebekah Brooks(affectionately referred to as
„Country Suppers‟). Cameron had actually
News of the World
editor Andy Coulson his press secretaryuntil revelations about phone-
hacking forced Coulson‟s exit from Downing
Street.Two QCs, Ben Emmerson and Hugh Tomlinson in a UK Guardian article
„No threat to freedom‟ (4 December 2012) conceded that „The politicians
who oppose Leveson will be able to rely on the support of the media in
future‟, adding, „The whole point of Leveson was to expose this sort of patronage, and bring it to an end‟.
Even so, forgetting for a moment where the comment is coming from,
Cameron‟s doubts about regulation are valid. His swiftly
was that „We should, I believe, be wary of any legislation which has the
potential to infringe free speech and a free
He went on:
The danger is that this would create a vehicle for politicians, whether today or some timein the future, to impose regulation and obligations on the press, something Lord JusticeLeveson himself wishes to avoid.
would be worthy of support if it were not for thefact that his government was concurrently launching draconian plans toput Internet communications under further legal surveillance.