Society responds to Liberal Democrat pledge to proceed with Leveson 2

Posted on: June 10, 2024 by Claire Meadows

The Executive Director of the Society of Editors has criticised the Liberal Democrat Party’s manifesto pledge to proceed with part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry saying that, more than a decade later, there is no public appetite for another “costly-inquiry” amid more pressing and urgent threats to the sustainability of journalism in the UK.

The comments came after the Liberal Democrat Party launched its 2024 Manifesto, which pledged support for proceeding with Part Two of the Leveson Inquiry as well as support for more “Leveson-compliant” press regulation which the party said would “ensure privacy, quality, diversity and choice in both print and online media”.

Other media pledges included support for a comprehensive ‘Anti-SLAPP Law’ which would “provide additional protection for free speech” as well as protecting the BBC, S4C, BBC Alba and Channel 4 as independent, publicly owned, public service broadcasters.

Responding to the manifesto, Dawn Alford, Executive Director of the Society of Editors said that while she welcomed support around the need for additional Anti-SLAPP protections following the passage of the Economic Crime Bill earlier this year, there were more urgent and pressing issues for the industry than the implementation of Leveson 2 more than a decade after the original inquiry.

She said: “While the Society welcomes the Liberal Democrat Party’s support for a much-needed Anti-SLAPP law to end the practice of the wealthy and powerful abusing British courts to silence their critics, we are disappointed to see a lack of support for independent press regulation and a pledge to proceed with part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry.

“The media environment has changed significantly since the first stage of the Leveson Inquiry and we now have a strong, independent and effective self-regulatory system under the Independent Press Standards Organisation. There is no public appetite, more than a decade later, for a costly Leveson-2 style inquiry and we would encourage the Party to, instead, recognise and prioritise more urgent issues that are threatening the sustainability of journalism in the UK such as threats to the intellectual property rights of publishers amid the growth of AI, the dominance of online platforms and, increasingly, threats to journalists’ safety.”

The Liberal Democrat Party’s manifesto can be read in full here.