Toothless Poodle, Steve Bell

Toothless Poodle, Steve Bell

Speaking to, Dr Evan Harris of Hacked Off described the history of press regulation in this country as ‘a history of cycles of failure’ where the press say that they’re going to self-regulate themselves effectively and don’t. He described the hacking scandal as ‘wholly, not only not prevented, but not detected’ and mentioned how the Press Complaints Commission also ‘shot the messenger’.


  • Vote in our poll: IPSO: Will new press regulator prove to be another toothless poodle? on the hme page
  • You can read the interview with Evan Harris by Bracken Stockley here
  • You can read Juliet Shaw on Taking on the Daily Mail here


Author: Jon Robins

Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon’s books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council’s journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year’s Criminal Justice Alliance’s journalism award

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  • George Gretton September 28, 2014 10:13 am

    Above question:

    “IPSO: Will new press regulator prove to be another toothless poodle?”

    Answer here, lower down:


    Wow, one of my briefer rants…


    George Gretton

  • Satish Sekar September 28, 2014 12:12 pm

    Where has self-regulation succeeded? It is designed to maintain control while giving the impression of dealing with complaints. The press and other media are far from alone in taking advantage of this. Only independent supervision and investigation of complaints can deliver impartiality.

  • David Rose September 30, 2014 9:24 am

    There is a huge problem with this argument: the basic premise that the notion of press “regulation” has any place in a democratic society. I accept there do need to be laws, some of which could be said to curb the absolute freedom of speech: against, for example, the publication of paedophile pornography, and – within strict limits – defamation.

    But the point that Hacked Off and Evan Harris have always missed is that the phone hacking scandal never had anything to do with “regulators”, or the supposed failure of the old PCC. It involved law breaking, pure and simple, and the failure of the police to enforce the law – largely, it seems, because of the unhealthy relationship between senior figures at Scotland Yard and News International, as it then was.

    We do not need a regulator. We need something like a US first amendment – not the watery substitute of the ECHR article 10, hedged as it is with crippling caveats. Hacked Off has simply never grasped what a free press means, and why any method used to curb it must be fraught with peri. The Royal Charter they support demonstrates this amply.

    I have always argued that the Leveson inquiry was a preposterous, rigged, celebrity dog and pony show. It allowed “victims” to tell their stories on the basis that whatever they said must be true, without subjecting their assertions to any form of interrogation. Its truly terrible report has been justified by Hacked Off’s constant waving of the bloody shirt of egregious cases such as those of the McCanns. Hacked Off’s main spokesmen are a failed MP who was looking for a job and ought, as a supposed “Liberal Democrat”, to have known better (Harris) and a professor of journalism at a third rate university (Brian Cathcart). It’s time they stopped setting the terms of this debate. Too much is at stake.

    The time has come to remember statements such as that of the Virginia legislature in 1776: “The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments.” Why is America, despite its flaws, a freer country than the UK? Because of this text: “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” IPSO, PCC, or some future Leveson-certified body: they can be loved only by those who appreciate the firm smack of authoritarian government and imposed conformity. We should reject them all.

    • Satish Sekar October 1, 2014 8:16 am

      And what should be done to control unethical journalism. I’m talking about sensational, misleading, inaccurate and ethical reporting. Journalism should never be a free pass to lie and deceive. At least two editions of a well respected allegedly investigative documentary series had preconceived agendas that had scant regard for the truth and its complaints system did nothing to investigate. It took the word of the journalists despite clear proof of wrongdoing. Press freedom must not become a justification or licence of media to abuse trust.

      • Satish Sekar October 1, 2014 8:18 am

        ethical should read unethical in the second sentence.

      • George Gretton October 1, 2014 9:27 pm

        YES!… Satish, Kindred Spirit.

        I need add nothing. I will quote you.

        “Press freedom must not become a justification or licence of media to abuse trust.”

        ABUSE TRUST… you use the most fundamental and unambiguous language.

        Thank you. I happen to have a Doctorate or three in what it is like to have one’s trust heinously betrayed.

        Yours, George Gretton

    • George Gretton October 1, 2014 8:39 am

      Question: “Are all supposed journalists whiter that white individuals of impeccable ethics and integrity?”

      Answer: “You cannot be serious!”

      Question: “Why do the Laws of DEFAMATION exist?

      Answer: “Because some really scummy and abusive scumbags mendaciously ABUSED their right to Free Speech, so as to ABUSE others.”

      Question: “Do individuals in the Psychopath / Sociopath spectrum exist in every walk of life, at all levels?”

      Answer: “Yes”.

      Question: “Is it wise to put any individual or group of individuals on a pedestal?”

      Long Answer: “No; that’s bonkers.”

      Yours, George

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