Leveson report roundup: naked royals and more

“The fact that something is on the Internet does not justify its publication in a newspaper.”

Note: This article is from the Guardian.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Leveson report roundup: naked royals, Page 3 and Richard Desmond” was written by Mark Sweney and John Plunkett, for The Guardian on Friday 30th November 2012 17.40 UTC

Extracts from Lord Justice Leveson’s report on the culture, practices and ethics of the press:

On the naked pictures of Prince Harry published by the Sun

“The fact that something is on the internet does not justify its publication in a newspaper.” Leveson added that “playing the card of widespread availability” is not good enough, “particularly when the public interest points that arise from the Las Vegas holiday [when the pictures were taken] do not depend on sight of the photographs”.

On coverage of minorities

The report concludes that there is evidence of discrimination against ethnic minorities. “Although the majority of the press appear to discharge this responsibility with care, there are enough examples of careless or reckless reporting to conclude that discriminatory, sensational or unbalanced reporting in relation to ethnic minorities, immigrants and/or asylum seekers is a feature of journalistic practice in parts of the press, rather than an aberration.”

On pictures of Duchess of Cambridge topless

“Widespread availability of an image on the internet on its own is not sufficient. There has to be some other public interest in publication of that image in order to justify it. For the Duchess, there clearly is not,” Leveson said of the pictures, published overseas by titles including the Irish Daily Star, but not in the UK.

On The Sun’s Page 3

Leveson said complaints of sexism levelled against the Sun over its topless pictures was outside his remit, but merited further consideration by any new press regulator. “Dominic Mohan, the editor of the Sun, made a spirited defence of Page 3. He is not to be criticised for doing so, and many will feel that Page 3 of the Sun raises a taste and decency issue and none other.”

On Richard Desmond

Leveson said Daily Express proprietor Desmond “revealed what I consider to be a very disturbing philosophical approach to the concepts of free speech and a free press”. “For him, at the end of the day, the issue was all about free speech and the threat of excessive regulation. On this approach, press standards and ethics were close to being irrelevant.”

On the Sun’s public interest journalism

Leveson said this often takes the form of explaining “extremely complex concepts of vital importance”, using an example provided by editor Dominic Mohan of an article giving a succinct description of the Eurozone bailout crisis. There is no doubt that journalism of this type is of a very high order, Leveson added.

On the Daily Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses scoop

“A vast amount of work had to be undertaken to analyse and review the raw material not least to ensure accuracy. The legal and ethical issues were properly and responsibly addressed, and the inquiry is fully satisfied that no corners were cut. This … is an example of journalism at its best.”

On the Daily Express’s McCann coverage

Leveson said former Express editor Peter Hill’s evidence to his inquiry concerning the parents of Madeleine McCann “betrayed a distinct lack of consideration for the dignity and privacy of the McCanns, and showed instead a focus on the circulation of his newspaper”. He added that the justifications for the defamatory coverage given by Hill and Desmond “for the frankly appalling treatment of the McCanns were … both self-serving and without foundation”.

On the Sun’s Hillsborough coverage

Leveson described the Sun’s front-page story on the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster, which falsely alleged that drunken fans had urinated on police and pickpocketed the dead, as an “egregious failure”. “The story underlines the need for a regulatory mechanism to challenge the press and to require it to justify itself.”

On anonymous sources

“The evidence … raised the strong suspicion, even if it did not provide conclusive evidence, that some journalists habitually refer to ‘sources’ even where the latter do not exist or where they have never said that which is attributed to them.”

On accuracy

“The inquiry heard sufficient evidence to conclude that some sections of the press have deliberately invented stories with no factual basis in order to satisfy the demands of a readership.”

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