This is a historic moment. We have not previously had a press regulator. I don’t expect the Inquiry’s recommendations to impact much on the law – there is an issue on timing as the Defamation Bill has its second reading in the House of Lords tomorrow (9 October).
The Inquiry’s recommendations must dovetail with libel reforms. There is a mass of civil and criminal law that already impacts on journalism, on what is published as well as how information is gathered. We don’t need any more.
I look forward to a workable, modern model of non statutory independent regulation that helps maintain standards, protects responsible journalism, inspires public trust and fits within the current statutory landscape; a model that is capable of being held up as a paradigm of modern press regulation around the world.
I hope the Inquiry avoids straying into areas of wider editorial discretion (such as pre-publication notification), which the courts have long recognised, most recently in Flood, should be left to editors.
I don’t see the Inquiry’s recommendations having much impact on privacy. The select committee recommended against such a law and all the existing Codes already deal with it. There is a real problem with the paparazzi, but I am not sure any single country can deal with that.