'Press freedom' or another publicity stunt?

Paul Staines, political blogger

Image via Wikipedia

Charlotte Church.

Image via Wikipedia

POLITICAL BLOGGER Guido Fawkes is due to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday afternoon – after a controversial draft of a Witness Statement suddenly appeared on his Order-Order site over the weekend. It has now been removed pending legal advice...


The news comes as today Charlotte Church and Anne Diamond gave emotional accounts of their experiences with the tabloid press into intrusions into their private moments of personal tragedy.


Fawkes though was asked to remove the content from his blog earlier in the day when Leveson made an order to do so, but only removed the content later on in the evening – and claimed online he was doing it to highlight press freedom – and claims this “draft” copy was obtained legally.


Lord Justice Leveson said he was in two minds over whether to publish the new statement that was due to be given by Alastair Campbell on Wednesday – but decided that it won’t be made public until Campbell appears.


Anne Diamond, the most outspoken of the victims of press intrusion told the Inquiry that although she was hounded by the tabloid press,  particularly when she had just given birth, said it could also be a force for good.


“Over the past weeks we have seen the bad side of journalism,” she said.


“We just cannot go on like this,” she added.


She said that although they had intruded on a tragic private moment when she was long-lensed on a public highway at the funeral of her son, who had died from cot death, she agreed to help the Sun newspaper raise £100,000 to plough that money into Cot Death Research.


She said she believed she had become a target of the tabloid press hounding when she had done a controversial TV interview with Rupert Murdoch, in which she doggedly asked himif he was happy that his newspapers destroyed lives.


Diamond, who was catapulted to fame on national TV as a presenter of Good Morning TV hinted to Leveson that the press should have some form of regulatory ethics, similar to ofcom in broadcast media.


She said that within this framework of strict guidelines for broadcast journalists, they still managed to undertake high quality investigative journalism, and broadcasts hacks just got on with their job without moaning about having to adhere to a set of rules.


She also told the Inquiry that when It came to years of self-regulation, from the Press Council, to the Press Complaints Commission, it had just simply not worked.


Her overall view was that when it came to the ethics of the press it was down to the individual values of editors, writers, and sometimes proprieters – but should be an agreed set of values rubber stamped from a regulatory body.


Charlotte Church told the Inquiry of her disgust at her family being subjected to the “scrutiny” of the media when it came to her father being accused of having an affair. She also said she was at the Inquiry to highlight how the tabloid press behaved when she was thrusted to fame as a thirteen year old operatic singer – and that she wanted to speak out so that no other talented person, whether it be a sporty one, should be subjected to the intrusive habits of the gutter press.

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