Amber Melville-Brown, partner, Media & Reputation Management, Withers

“The ink will not yet be dry on Lord Justice Leveson’s report on the culture, practice and ethics of the press. And there is plenty of time for an alternation or two.

Amber Melville-Brown
Amber Melville-Brown

Which is why the cynical among us may think that the bloodhound and watchdog of society has everything to gain by behaving itself for the time being – and everything to lose by being a naughty press hound. Vis – for the majority of Fleet Street – making its excuses and leaving when it came to Prince Harry’s bare buttocks and the Duchess of Cambridge’s bare boobs.

 It is naive for us to believe however, that this righteous responsibility will continue indefinitely and that the wilder excesses of the tabloid press will not resurface. Especially where the glittering prize of significantly increased sales is the result of an invasion or two of privacy often purportedly justified with some specious argument of public interest.

 In the post Leveson landscape, any body handed the poisoned chalice of regulation must be able to obtain buy-in from the press to avoid giving it the opportunity to shout from the soap boxes of their own widely read publications, that it is they who are the misunderstood victims of vilification.

It must be able to enforce a right to privacy, be treated with respect and not exploited as a commercial commodity; and be able to provide a real remedy to the victim and/or a persuasive punishment to the perpetrator for serious misconduct.

If not, the inquiry will have been an enjoyable circus but risks going down in history as the mere footnote that Leveson LJ is anxious to avoid.  

It’s now widely anticipated that Lord Justice Leveson will recommend some form of statutory underpinning of press regulation when he reports back later this year.”