Ian Hislop gives evidence at the Leveson Inquiry
The Leveson Inquiry has taken a new turn today into the phone hacking scandals, with editors of some of Britain’s most popular publications being called to give evidence. The response of the Press Complaints Committee (PCC) and the relationships between the press and politicians were the main issues under scrutiny.
John Witherow, editor of the Sunday Times, stated that “Newspapers are caught up in an absolute revolution. We’ve never had a challenge like this in 300 years … The challenge is how do you continue to publish in print and digitally and continue to publish good journalism?”
Witherow denied that the Sunday Times had ever used phone hacking to produce stories, and expressed that he thought a statutory regulatory body set up by parliament would open the door for political interference .
Alan Rusbridger and Chris Elliot, editor and reader’s editor of the Guardian newspaper, also took the stand to discuss the position of the Guardian and their relationship with the PCC. Elliot expressed that there was pressure for complaints to be addressed quickly online, and that any complaints through the PCC usually took longer to process. Rusbridger stated that he saw the PCC’s response to the phone-hacking scandals as ‘worse than a whitewash’ but that the PCC code itself is ‘adequate’.
Ian Hislop, editor of satirical and current affairs magazine Private Eye, addressed the relationship between MPs and those who worked at News Corporation as one reason that the News of the World thought it was acceptable to use phone hacking as a journalistic technique. “If the prime minister appoints the former News of the World editor as his communications director, News International will think ‘we are top of the pile, nothing can stop us'”
The Leveson Inquiry is collecting evidence over press ethics over the phone hacking scandals involving many celebrities in the public eye, and murdered school-girl Milly Dowler.