Category Archives: Government

Failing to defend press standards

The other day I came across a surprising quotation from Sir Alan Moses (see below in paragraph 5).  He was the first head of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), the latest incarnation of what passes for a UK press regulator. Ipso came into being following the conclusion of the first part of the Leveson Inquiry, the judicial public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press which followed the News International ‘phone hacking scandal. Leveson 2 was intended to examine relationships between journalists and the police. It was scrapped by the government in March 2018.

Set up in 2011 the inquiry held a series of public hearings during 2011 and 2012. Even Rupert Murdoch found time to attend, in April 2012 and you can read a very interesting account of his evidence reported by Nick Davies at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/apr/25/rupert-murdoch-planned-leveson-inquiry

Sir Alan headed up Ipso from 2014 leaving at the end of 2019.

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Nearly 50 years to clear their names

Today, 23 March 2021 will go down in history as the day when a titanic struggle for justice finally came to an end. On that day the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions of 14 men sentenced for their involvement in picketing during the 1972 national building workers strike. Lawyers for the  ‘Shrewsbury 24’ as they were known from the outset had argued the destruction of witness statements made their convictions unsafe. The appeal judge Lord Justice Fulford agreed saying that “what occurred was unfair”.  Sadly six of the 14 who brought the action have since died, including Des Warren, who was jailed for three years. Best known of the pickets is the Royle Family TV actor Ricky Tomlinson who was among those convicted and was jailed for two years.

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Europe, a road crash that was decades in the making

‘I believe the Union is over-democratised.’ Herman van Rumpuy EU President from 2009 to 2014 (quoted by Perry Anderson in ‘The European Coup’ London Review of Books, 17 December 2020)

I was fourteen at the time when on 3 February 1960, Prime Minister and old Etonian Harold Macmillan made his wind of change speech to South Africa’s parliament during his African tour. That day he said: ‘The wind of change is blowing through this continent and, whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact’. To many the speech is remembered as firing the starting gun to speed up the decolonisation of the British Empire in Africa, a rush for the exit you might say, whilst seeking to minimise Soviet influences on these emerging nations. But it was also an attack on South Africa’s system of apartheid which was only swept away some thirty years later. I did not realise at the time that this was the precursor to a long courtship with the then European Economic Community (EEC) which as we all know ended in an acrimonious divorce.

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