|Why we’re launching the Counter-Leveson Inquiry|
On Monday, in his opening remarks at the second part of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, Lord Justice Leveson said he found ‘publicly expressed concerns’ about the inquiry ‘troubling’. Well, m’lud, you had better prepare to be further troubled. For today, spiked launches the Counter-Leveson Inquiry, an intellectual two-fingered salute to the creeping conformism and censoriousness being unleashed by the Leveson process.
The most remarkable thing about Leveson’s admission to feeling troubled by public criticisms is that, sadly, there has been very little public criticism of his showtrial of the tabloids. You could count on one hand, or at a stretch two hands, the number of journalists and politicians who have dared to question the right of one judge to marshal celebrities and coppers to the cause of redefining the ethics of the press.
It is alarming that, in a country where the poet John Milton demanded freedom of the press more than 350 years ago, and where many other writers and activists subsequently fought tooth-and-catapult to expel state forces from the worlds of writing and publishing, so many should now acquiesce to an inquiry which gives a judge and his chums the power to tell the media what its morals should be. The conformism amongst the targets of the inquiry – that is, the press – is even more shocking than the cockiness of the organisers of it, those figures of authority who seem to have forgotten that the press is supposed to investigate them, not vice versa.
This is about to change. spiked has been raising concerns about the likely consequences of the crusade against ‘unethical’ tabloids since before Leveson was set up, and we have continually criticised the Leveson process for creating a censorious climate in the here and now, even before its recommendations have been made. And now we plan to gather together our arguments, and intensify them, in a Counter-Leveson Inquiry which will put the case against Leveson, against judges and police getting to tell the press what its ethics should be, and against any stricture whatsoever on the right of the press, whether highbrow or low-rent, to investigate and publish what it sees fit.
Why? Not because we hold a candle for tabloid newspapers, but because we carry a torch for press freedom, because we believe that Milton’s rallying cry is as fitting today as it was in 1644: ‘Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.’
We need your support in making a stand for press freedom. Join the Counter-Leveson Inquiry Facebook page – and help us build our war chest by donating generously here.