Acted in 2009 for the Mail on Sunday on a copyright and privacy claim brought by Madonna over her wedding photos.
In my view the public’s confidence in the press must be restored. In order to do this, a stronger media regulator needs to be put in place to balance the competing rights of privacy, reputation and freedom of expression.
Having said the above, the regulator must be demonstrably independent of government. One of the essential aspects of a democracy is to have a plural and free media.
The media are the eyes and ears of the general public and should not be constrained or seen to be constrained by government in any way.
For these reasons, I believe that the regulator should not be a government or governmental approved body (such as Ofcom), nor should it be overseen by one.
In terms of the law itself, most if not all of the complainants that have come forward during the Inquiry have been able to achieve some legal redress, whether founded on privacy, defamation or harassment laws.
As for the phone hacking itself, given that this is an illegal activity, this was never within the Press Complaints Commission’s remit but rather an issue for the police. This remains the case.
Therefore, I doubt that the letter of the law will change as a consequence of the Leveson inquiry.
Independent of the Leveson Inquiry, we are going to see changes in the medial legal landscape over the next year with the enactment of the Defamation Bill, which is now being considered by the House of Lords.
In addition, in April 2013 the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will bring into force a number of significant changes regarding costs management and litigation funding, with the abolition of the recoverability from the other side of both conditional fee agreement success fees and also after the event insurance premiums.
My view is that privacy laws will not be affected, post-Leveson. Any changes to English privacy law must be compliant with Strasbourg case law which is governed by the European Convention on Human Rights. Indeed, earlier this year, the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions decided that no changes to English privacy law were needed.