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The Counter-Leveson Inquiry

Wednesday 29 February 2012
Why we’re launching the Counter-Leveson Inquiry
by spiked editor Brendan O’Neill

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.

Wednesday 10 January 2018
Ella Whelan
Virgin’s elitist Mail‑bashing
Yes this is censorship – and it’s time to stand up to it.

Saturday 23 December 2017
Naomi Firsht
In 2017, it was all‑out war on press freedom
From Leveson to Stop Funding Hate, snobs want to stifle the press.

Thursday 23 November 2017
Paul Seaman
Paperchase’s corporate cowardice

Wednesday 22 November 2017
Brendan O’Neill at the Comedy Cellar
Our editor went to the legendary NY club to discuss Hollywood hysteria.

Friday 10 November 2017
Naomi Firsht
A sly assault on the freedom of the press
Some in the House of Lords want to muzzle reporters.

Tuesday 31 October 2017
Henry Williams
Exposing Weinstein would be impossible in Britain
UK libel laws stop journalists taking on the rich and powerful.

Thursday 31 August 2017
Sabine Beppler-Spahl
A lesson for the left about censorship
The banning of a left-wing website in Germany reminds us that free speech is for all or none at all.

Thursday 24 August 2017
Emily Dinsmore
Council cronies are attacking press freedom

Wednesday 16 August 2017
Brendan O’Neill
Hands off the Sun!
Corbynistas calling for journalists to be sacked are like jumped-up Joe Stalins.

Wednesday 16 August 2017
Mick Hume
Fake news: who checks the fact‑checkers?
The ‘fake news’ panic is a phoney excuse for sanitising debate.

Wednesday 14 June 2017
Fraser Myers
Why the media suddenly love George Osborne

Thursday 8 June 2017
Tom Slater
The Corbynite fury with tabloid readers

Thursday 1 June 2017
Mick Hume
Where’s the free speech party?
While the Tories plan to police the web, Labour wants to abolish press freedom.

Thursday 18 May 2017
Mick Hume
When Labour blames the meejah, it really means the masses
Corbyn and Co see voters as sheeple being herded by evil media masters.

Wednesday 3 May 2017
Jacob Furedi
Why we must keep fighting for a free press
Both officialdom and the media are suspicious of press freedom.

Tuesday 18 April 2017
Mick Hume
There are worse things than a Kelvin MacKenzie column...
...like allowing Labour and the police to boss about the free press.

Wednesday 5 April 2017
Jacob Furedi
Turkey: a dangerous place to dissent
Erdogan’s crackdown on free expression should worry us all.

Friday 24 March 2017
Izzy Lyons
Why the i was wrong to change its front page

Tuesday 14 February 2017
Naomi Firsht
Turning journalism into a crime
The proposed new Espionage Act would devastate press freedom.

Wednesday 8 February 2017
Mick Hume
The danger is not fake news, but fake democracy
We don’t need gatekeepers to tell us what to believe.

Next Page >>


17 January 2018
Now we know who really fears and loathes Poles – Remainers
18 January 2018
Momentum: the phoney civil war over Labour’s future

21 June 2013:
Man of Steel, leaden film

28 June 2013:
Dispatches’ dirty little secret