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‘Moving in concentric circles’? The history and politics of press inquiries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Michael Harker*
UEA Law School, University of East Anglia, Earlham Hall, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
John Street
School of Political, Social and International Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK. Email:
Samuel Cross
School of History, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK. Email:
Michael Harker (corresponding author), UEA Law School, University of East Anglia, Earlham Hall, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK. Email: John Street, School of Political, Social and International Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK. Email: Samuel Cross, School of History, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK. Email: samuel.


In this paper, we consider the Leveson inquiry's use of a narrative device – the policy cycle – to justify the need for a break with the past. We challenge that narrative, which runs through much of the literature, and posit a more nuanced and complex account of the politics and history of press inquiries, drawing upon the political science literature. We then reflect upon the implications of our findings for the future of press regulation.

Research Article
Copyright © Society of Legal Scholars 2017

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We would like to thank David Reader for comments on an earlier draft. All errors remain the authors’ responsibility.


1. Leveson, Lord Justice The Leveson Inquiry: Report into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press HC780 (London: TSO, 2012)Google Scholar, available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

2. Ibid, pp 4–5. These terms of reference relate to part one of the inquiry.

3. For an overview, and critique, of Leveson's key recommendations, see: Hooper, D and Jordan, BThe Leveson report and the future regulation of the press’ (2013) 24(2) Ent L Rev 44 Google Scholar; Chamberlain, PWhere now? The Leveson report and what to do with it’ (2013) 18(1) Comms L 21 Google Scholar; Wragg, PTime to end the tyranny: Leveson and the failure of the Fourth Estate’ (2013) 18 Comms L 11 Google Scholar; Wragg, PLeveson's vision for press reform: one year on’ (2014) 19(1) Comms L 6 Google Scholar; Barnett, SLeveson past, present and future: the politics of press regulation’ (2013) 84(3) Pol Q 353 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Barendt, EStatutory underpinning: a threat to press freedom?’ (2013) 5(2) J Media L 189 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gibbons, TBuilding trust in press regulation: obstacles and opportunities’ (2013) 5(2) J Media L 202 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Rowbottom, JPoliticians, the press and lobbying’ (2013) 5(2) J Media L 253 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Wragg, PLeveson and disproportionate public interest reporting’ (2013) 5(2) J Media L 241 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Phillipson, GLeveson, the public interest and press freedom’ (2013) 5(2) J Media L 220 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Wragg, PThe legitimacy of press regulation’ [2015] Pub L 290 Google Scholar.

4. Leveson, above n 1, p 195.

5. Ibid. The Leveson report contains a chapter summarising the history of press inquiries (Leveson, above n 1, part D, ch 1).

6. Leveson, above n 1, pp 216–217. The title of this paper derives from this quote.

7. The key literature supporting the ‘policy cycle’ narrative, much of which is relied upon by Leveson, includes: O'Malley, T and Soley, C Regulating the Press (London: Pluto Press, 2000)Google Scholar; Snoddy, R The Good, the Bad, and the Unacceptable: The Hard News about the British Press (London: Faber & Faber, 1992)Google Scholar; Robertson, G People against the Press: Enquiry into the Operations of the Press Council (London: Quartet, 1983)Google Scholar. See also Freedman, D The Politics of Media Policy (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008)Google Scholar; Hardy, J Western Media Systems (London: Routledge, 2008)Google Scholar; Fielden, L Regulating for Trust in Journalism: Standards Regulation in the Age of Blended Media (Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2011)Google Scholar; Lunt, P and Livingstone, S Media Regulation (London: SAGE Publications, 2012)Google Scholar; Feintuck, M and Varney, M Media Regulation, Public Interest and the Law (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2nd edn, 2006) pp 191195 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The Media Standards Trust published a paper during the course of the inquiry that sought to reinforce the policy cycle narrative: Moore, M and Ramsay, GN A Free and Accountable Media (London: Media Standards Trust, 2012)Google Scholar, available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

8. Curran, J and Seaton, J Power without Responsibility (London: Routledge, 7th edn, 2010) p 338 Google ScholarPubMed.

9. Conboy, M Journalism in Britain: A Historical Introduction (London: SAGE Publications, 2011) p 58 Google Scholar.

10. Ibid, p 59.

11. The idea of a ‘policy cycle’, a process that brings together the various stages of policy making, did hold sway within political science for some time, but it has been challenged on theoretical and empirical grounds. The criticisms focus on the fact that it fails to map on to reality. The distinct phases of the model, as it is conceived in policy science, are at odds with the empirical evidence, which suggests that phases overlap and interact. As a result, it is now regarded as a heuristic device used to organise thinking about, and analysis of, policy change, but not to describe an actual process: see Knill, C and Tosun, J Public Policy: A New Introduction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hill, M The Public Policy Process (Harlow: Pearson, 6th edn, 2013)Google Scholar; Colebatch, H (ed) Beyond the Policy Cycle: The Policy Process in Australia (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2006)Google Scholar.

12. A Downs ‘Up and down with ecology’ (1972) 28 Pub Interest 38; Heclo, H and Wildavsky, A The Private Government of Public Money (London: Macmillan, 1974)Google Scholar; John, P et al Policy Agendas in British Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

13. Jordan, A and Turnpenny, J (eds) The Tools of Policy Formation: Actors, Capacities, Venues and Effects (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2015)Google Scholar.

14. Sulitzeanu-Kenan, RReflection in the shadow of blame: when do politicians appoint commissions of inquiry’ (2010) 40(3) Br J Pol Sci 613 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15. Using terms such as ‘press’, ‘newspaper’, ‘Commission’, ‘Royal Commission’ and the names of those appointed to lead each individual inquiry, an insight was sought into how each was discussed in the privacy of the Cabinet and the ‘politics’ at play behind the scenes.

16. The introductory section of each report, which details the origins and scope of the inquiry, allowed us to narrow down the timeframes during which we should concentrate our attention (ie the earliest parliamentary questions/debates that were claimed to have triggered the inquiries), while the date of publication dictated the period in which we looked for government/parliamentary response (further narrowed down by undertaking keyword searches of the House of Common Parliamentary Papers Archive).

17. Bingham, ADrinking in the last chance saloon: the British press and the crisis of self-regulation, 1989–95’ (2007) 13(1) Media Hist 79 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Bingham draws upon a series of interviews and a roundtable. For the transcripts, see: Bingham, A (ed) Regulating the Press: The Calcutt Report and the Establishment of the Press Complaints Commission (London: Centre for Contemporary British History, 2007)Google Scholar. The historian Richard Shannon has published a book in preparation of which he was granted access to the PCC's archives: Shannon, R A Press Free and Responsible: Self-Regulation and the Press Complaints Commission 1991–2001 (London: John Murray, 2001)Google Scholar.

18. The evidence received by the Leveson inquiry can be accessed through its archived website. Written evidence is arranged by the name of the witness and is available at (accessed 18 May 2016). Oral evidence is arranged by the date of the relevant hearing and is available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

19. The following PMBs, by year, sponsoring MP and key provisions, were considered: 1952, Simmons, statutory press regulation; 1961, Mancroft, general right to privacy against press and broadcasters; 1967, Lyons, general right to privacy; 1969, Walden, general right to privacy; 1982, Alluan, right of reply enforced by an ombudsman; 1984, Mitchell, right of reply enforced by statutory panel; 1987, Clywd, right of reply enforced by statutory commission; 1988, Worthington, right of reply enforced by statutory commission; 1989, Browne, general right to privacy; 1992, Soley, right of reply enforced by statutory regulator; 1997, Steen, statutory PCC.

20. Report of the Royal Commission on the Press 1947–1949 Cmd 7700 (London: HMSO, 1962)Google Scholar. The Political and Economic Planning Group (PEP) was the first to recommend self-regulation of the press in 1938. While the Leveson report suggests that this was a government-appointed group (Leveson, above n 1, p 197), the PEP described itself in its foreword as ‘an independent non-party group, consisting of more than a hundred working members’ who ‘give part of their spare time to the use of their special training in fact-finding and in suggesting principles and possible advances over a wide range of social and economic activities’: Political and Economic Planning Group Report on the British Press (London: PEP, 1946)Google Scholar.

21. The National Archives (TNA) ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 15 July 1946 [CM 68 (46)] CAB/128/6.

22. In response to Morrison's initial suggestion of a Royal Commission, Sir Stafford Cripps (President of the Board of Trade) argued instead for a formal judicial led inquiry, set up under the Tribunals of Enquiry (Evidence) Act 1921. Lord Jowitt (Lord Chancellor) weighed in, pointing out that it was unlikely that a judge could be secured to lead such an inquiry. Cripps also posed the question of what action the government might take as a result of an inquiry: ‘Was it contemplated, for example, that the enquiry should lead to legislation, and if so, on what lines?’ TNA ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 30 July 1946 [C.M 75 (46)] CAB/128/6.

23. TNA ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 30 July 1946 [CM 75 (46)] CAB/128/6.

24. TNA ‘Inquiry into the press’ Memorandum by the Lord President of the Council 27 September 1946 [CP (46) 360] CAB/129/13.

25. TNA ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 3 October 1946 [CM 84 (46)] CAB/128/6.

26. TNA ‘Cabinet minutes’ 17 October 1946 [CM 87 (46)] CAB/195/4.

27. Cited by the Ross Commission, above n 20, p 3.

28. Ross Commission, above n 20, p 175.

29. Ibid, p 176.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid, p 177.

32. Ibid, pp 155, 177.

33. Ibid, pp 165, 177. Indeed, the Commission was quite indignant that there had been press coverage in the national newspapers that it had been considering a government-appointed body (ibid, p 130).

34. Ibid, p 165.

35. Relatively little attention was paid to the problem of intrusions on privacy and inaccurate reporting, though there was some limited anecdotal evidence (ibid, p 132).

36. Ibid, pp 170–171.

37. Ibid, p 172.

38. TNA ‘Report of the Royal Commission on the Press’ Memorandum by Lord President of the Council, 9 July 1949 [CP (49) 147] CAB/129/35.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid.

41. Royal Commission on the Press 1961–1962 Cmnd 1811 (the Shawcross Commission) (London: HMSO, 1962)Google Scholar.

42. Ibid, pp 9–10.

43. TNA ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 31 January 1961 [CC (61)] CAB/128/35 (emphasis supplied).

44. TNA ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 7 February 1961: 4 [CC (61)] CAB/128/35.

45. Ibid.

46. Lord Shawcross had served as an Attorney General under the previous Labour administration, and went on to chair the Press Council from 1974 to 1978.

47. Shawcross Commission, above n 41, p 10. ‘General ethical questions’ here is taken to mean ‘accurate presentation of news’, in line with the terms of reference of the Ross Commission (see the table in the Annex to this paper).

48. Ibid, p 98.

49. Ibid, pp 105–110. Other proposals included more transparency for readers concerning the ownership of the newspapers they were purchasing, better training for apprentice journalists, and a restriction on cross-ownership of newspapers and television companies.

50. A key recommendation of the Ross Commission was the expansion of the jurisdiction of the Monopolies Commission to deal with local newspaper consolidations that might not be of sufficient scale to fall within its purview (Ross Commission, above n 21, pp 162, 178).

51. Shawcross Commission, above n 41, pp 100–102.

52. Ibid, p 101. See Ross Commission, above n 21, p 171.

53. Shawcross Commission, above n 41, p 101.

54. Ibid, p 101, [323].

55. Ibid, p 101, [320].

56. Ibid, p 102, [325].

57. Report of the Committee on Privacy Cmnd 5012 (the Younger Committee) (London: HMSO, 1972)Google Scholar.

58. On the changing nature of press behaviour and coverage that contributed to parliamentary concern, see Greenslade, R Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits from Propaganda (London: Macmillan, 2004) ch 10Google Scholar.

59. TNA ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 22 January 1971 [CC (70)] CAB/128/45.

60. Ibid.

61. The terms of reference did not mention the press explicitly.

62. Younger Committee, above n 57, p 35. It should be noted, however, that the complaints against the press only totalled 27. None of the complaints related to the use of surreptitious devices, and the only complaints concerning intrusion related to harassment.

63. Ibid, p 37.

64. Ibid, pp 37–38.

65. Ibid, pp 54–55.

66. Ibid, p 55.

67. Ibid.

68. Ibid.

69. Ibid.

70. Ibid.

71. Ibid.

72. Ibid.

73. Report of the Royal Commission on the Press Cmnd 6810 (London: HMSO, 1977)Google Scholar.

74. TNA ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 9 April 1974 [CC (74)] CAB/128/54/9.

75. TNA ‘Freedom of the press’ Memorandum by the Secretary of State for Employment, 3 December 1974 [C(74) 142] CAB/129/180/17.

76. McGregor Commission, above n 73, p 2.

77. Ibid, p i.

78. Although in the context of the final report, it was only one of 21 chapters (excluding the introduction and conclusion).

79. McGregor Commission, above n 73, p 196.

80. Ibid, p 196.

81. Ibid.

82. Ibid. Here, the Commission is referring to both the Press Council and the predecessor GCP.

83. Ibid, p 198.

84. Ibid, p 200.

85. In particular, that the Press Council itself was responsible for the nomination of potential appointees (ibid, p 201).

86. Ibid, pp 207–210. Interestingly, a former Chairman of the Council, the retired law lord, Lord Devlin, appeared unconvinced by the need for a code of conduct, preferring instead principles to evolve through the development of case law: Levy, HP The Press Council: History, Procedure and Cases (London: Macmillan, 1967) p xi Google Scholar, cited by McGregor Commission (above n 73, p 207).

87. During the course of the inquiry, the Press Council did make a number of declarations of principle, including one on privacy.

88. McGregor Commission, above n 73, p 209. It also pointed towards the fact that other self-regulatory bodies, such as the ASA, had adopted codes of conduct, and there was no reason to think that it would not be appropriate for the press.

89. Ibid, p 212.

90. Ibid, p 213.

91. Ibid, pp 204–205, 213.

92. TNA ‘National newspaper industry’ Memorandum by the Secretary of State for Trade 12 March 1976 [C(76) 30] CAB/129/188/5.

93. TNA ‘Cabinet conclusions’ 16 March 1976 [CC(76)] CAB/128/58/10.

94. Dworkin, GThe Younger Committee Report on Privacy’ (1973) 36(4) Mod L Rev 399 at 404405 Google Scholar.

95. The latter case concerned Sunday Sport's journalists, who gained access to the actor's hospital room and photographed him after he had brain surgery.

96. Snoddy, above n 7, pp 99–101.

97. Greenslade, above n 58, p 539.

98. Report of the Committee on Privacy and Related Matters Cm 1102 (London: TSO, 1990)Google Scholar (the Calcutt Committee or Calcutt I, depending on context).

99. For a critique of the report, see Munro, CPress freedom – how the beast was tamed’ (1991) 54(1) Mod L Rev 104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

100. Calcutt Committee, above n 98, p 1.

101. Its terms of reference refer to ‘public concern about intrusions into the private lives of individuals by certain sections of the press’ and the need ‘to consider what measures (whether legislative or otherwise) are needed to give further protection to individual privacy from the activities of the press and improve recourse against the press for the individual citizen’ (ibid, p 1).

102. Ibid, pp 63–64.

103. Ibid, p 63. There were even reports that members of the Council had appeared at hearings on behalf of their own newspapers.

104. Ibid.

105. Ibid, p 64.

106. Ibid.

107. Ibid.

108. Ibid, p 66.

109. Ibid, p 67.

110. Ibid, pp 69–71.

111. Ibid, pp 71–72.

112. Ibid, p 67.

113. Ibid, p 69.

114. Ibid, ch 16.

115. Ibid, p 73. The reference to maverick publications probably related principally to The Sport, which had not been a member of the Press Council.

116. Intermediate steps, such as self-regulation on the contractual model, and statutory back-stop powers were rejected.

117. These related to physical intrusion, long-lens photography and the use of covert surveillance devices with the intent of obtaining private information for publication, all of which would be subject to a number of public interest defences (Calcutt Committee, above n 98, p 23). For a discussion, see Munro, above n 99, pp 108–109.

118. [1991] FSR 62.

119. Calcutt Committee, above n 98, ch 12.

120. Bingham, above n 17, ‘Drinking in the last chance saloon’, at 83.

121. Ibid, p 84.

122. Ibid, pp 84–85.

123. This resulted from the serialisation of Andrew Morten's book on Princess Diana in The Times in June 1992. It subsequently became clear that the book was written with the tacit consent of the princess.

124. Nor did he consult the Committee (Bingham, above n 17, ‘Drinking in the last chance saloon’, at 86).

125. Department of National Heritage Review of Press Self-Regulation Cm 2135 (London: HMSO, 1993)Google ScholarPubMed (Calcutt II), available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

126. While a code had been adopted, Calcutt complained that it was created and controlled by the industry, rather than by the PCC. Furthermore, the appointments process was not sufficiently independent, and the PCC's inability to deal with third-party complaints ‘gravely weakened’ its potential to regulate.

127. Calcutt II, above n 98, at [5.26].

128. Mellor had apparently announced the Calcutt II inquiry knowing that the press was investigating his private life. While this is testament to his resolve to act, it did fatally undermine his independence, forcing his resignation (Shannon, above n 17, p 101).

129. Bingham, above n 17, ‘Drinking in the last chance saloon’, at 85.

130. Ibid, at 86.

131. Who chaired the National Heritage Select Committee at the time.

132. Robertson was the author of a book that had broadly condemned the Press Council (Robertson, above n 7).

133. Shannon, above n 17, p 119.

134. National Heritage Select Committee Privacy and Media Intrusion HC 294 (London: TSO, 1993) p xxi Google ScholarPubMed.

135. These included strengthening the independence of the appointments commission, announcing extra funding, the setting up of the telephone hotline, changes to the code dealing with intrusive photography (with the PCC to ratify changes) and an extension of the PCC's remit to deal with third party complaints (ibid, p 122).

136. In a speech to the Newspaper Society in May 1993, the then Prime Minister, John Major, appeared to rule out statutory regulation (Shannon, above n 17, p 129).

137. Lord Chancellor's Department and Scottish Office Infringement of Privacy, Consultation Paper (July 1993.

138. Bingham, above n 17, ‘Drinking in the last chance saloon’, at 88.

139. Oral evidence to the Leveson inquiry of Lord Brooke (Morning Session, 24 May 2012) at 19.

140. Oral evidence to the Leveson inquiry of Sir John Major (Morning Session, 24 May 2012) at 68.

141. Ibid, at 69–72.

142. Second witness statement of Lord Wakeham (15 May 2012) at [31].

143. Witness statement of Sir John Major (14 May 2012) at 37.

144. Shannon, above n 17, p 192.

145. The Government's Response to the House of Commons National Heritage Select Committee, Privacy and Media Intrusion Cm 2918 (the White Paper) (London: HMSO, July 1995)Google Scholar. Though commonly referred to as a White Paper, as its title indicates, it was technically a response to the NHSC report of March 1993.

146. Virginia Bottomley had succeeded Dorrell as Secretary of State for National Heritage on 5 July 1995, less than 2 weeks before the publication of the White Paper on 17 July 1995. The White Paper was approved by the Cabinet sub-Committee in June 1995: Oral evidence to the Leveson inquiry of Stephen Dorrell (Morning Session, 23 May 2012) at 35.

147. Oral evidence of Dorrell, ibid, at 22. The Lord Chancellor continued to favour the tort, though there were presentational difficulties with the fear it would represented by the press as a ‘self-protection racket’. The Attorney General and the Home Secretary were continuing to oppose the criminal offences, despite the public commitment to legislate (ibid, at 12–16).

148. Oral evidence of Dorrell, ibid, at 17–18.

149. White Paper, above n 145, p 4.

150. Ibid, pp 7–8.

151. In particular, the Broadcasting Act 1996, Sch 2, contained detailed cross-media ownership rules. See Feintuck, MThe UK Broadcasting Act 1996: a holding operation?’ (1997) 3(2) Eur Pub L 201 Google Scholar; Curran and Seaton, above n 8, pp 333–334; Feintuck and Varney, above n 7, pp 135-145; S Barnett What's wrong with media monopolies? A lesson from history and a new approach to media ownership policy' MEDIA@LSE Electronic Working Papers No 18, available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

152. Charles Clarke, the ex-Home Secretary, has coined the phrase ‘the too difficult box’ to characterise issues with which politicians are reluctant to deal, and for which an inquiry (or equivalent) is the default response. See Clarke, C (ed) The Too Difficult Box (London: Biteback, 2014)Google Scholar.

153. Straw, J Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor (London: Pan, 2013) p 281 Google Scholar.

154. Sulitzeanu-Kenan, above n 14.

155. If the inquiry is to be seen as a holding device, then it might be supposed that the selection of the chair and members of the inquiry team is key to the politician's strategy. But membership and its impact on the outcome has received very little attention. Sulitzeanu-Kenan's extensive examination of inquiries (above, n 14) makes almost no mention of the issue. Our own analysis of the membership (see Annex Column 3) does not suggest any obvious correlation between the outcomes and the size or composition of the inquiry; nor does there appear to be one with the professional or political affiliation of the chair. For the most detailed discussion in the literature, see Bulmer, MThe Royal Commission and Departmental Committee in the British policy-making process’ in Peters, BG and Barker, A (eds) Advising West European Governments: Inquiries, Expertise and Public Policy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993) p 37 Google Scholar. For the politician's view, see Howe, GThe management of public inquiries2002 70(3) Pol Q 304 Google Scholar.

156. Oral evidence of Dorrell, above n 146, at 35.

157. Calcutt Committee, above n 98, at [4.8].

158. For a discussion, see Phillipson, above n 3; Wragg, ‘The legitimacy of press regulation’, above n 3.

159. See, in particular, the Leveson inquiry, above n 1, vol III, pt I, ch 8. For a discussion, see Rowbottom, above n 3.

160. Barnett, SWill the crisis in journalism provoke a crisis in democracy?’ (2002) 73(4) Pol Q 400 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

161. See Baker, CE Media Concentration and Democracy: Why Ownership Matters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)Google Scholar; Curran and Seaton, above n 8.

162. Oral evidence of Major, above n 140, at 69–72.

163. Oral evidence to the Leveson inquiry of Tony Blair (Morning Session, 28 May 2012) at 4–5. While in opposition, Tony Blair had sought a rapprochement with the Murdoch press with his Hayman Island speech to News Corp executives in July 1995. The speech was on the topic of the cross-media ownership, but had a wider effect of neutralising the issue of press regulation for any incoming Labour administration (Shannon, above n 17, p 201). It should not be forgotten, however, that major changes to privacy laws were implemented by the Labour government. Principal among these was the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by the Human Rights Act 1998, which gave the courts the legislative imprimatur for the development of the tort of misuse of private information.

164. We see from our analysis of the inquiries that press behaviour has not been the main ‘trigger’, with the exception of Calcutt I and II.

165. John et al, above n 12.

166. See Brazier, A and Fox, REnhancing the backbench MP's Role as a legislator: the case for urgent reform of private members bills’ (2010) 63(1) Parliamentary Affairs 201 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On proposals for reform, see House of Commons Procedure Committee Private Members' Bills HC 188 (London: TSO, 2013)Google ScholarPubMed.

167. For a list of all the PMBs, see above n 19.

168. Indeed, the bill was withdrawn in the light of the industry's decision to set up the GCP.

169. This is well documented in the Cabinet discussions above.

170. Bingham, above n 17, ‘Drinking in the last chance saloon’, at 81.

171. For examples, see Brazier and Fox, above n 166, pp 205–207.

172. A position confirmed by the IPSO chairman, Sir Alan Moses: HL Select Committee on Communications Press Regulation – Where Are We Now? Evidence Volume, Q26, available at (accessed 18 May 2016). For a good explanation of the Royal Charter and the incentives to join a regulator recognised by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), see: H Tomlinson The New UK Model of Press Regulation (LSE Media Policy Brief, March 2014, available at (accessed 18 May 2016). The failure of any industry regulator to apply and receive recognition has the consequence that the cost-shifting rules under s 40 of the Courts and Crime Act 2013 cannot come into effect. The vexed question of a rival regulator, IMPRESS, applying for recognition may well have important consequences here. The PRP has opened a second consultation on whether IMPRESS should be recognised: see PRP ‘Second PRP call for information about IMPRESS's application’ (4 May 2016), available at (accessed 18 May 2016). IMPRESS has a very limited membership, with no mainstream national titles.

173. This relates to commencement of the cost-shifting rules under s 40 of the Courts and Crime Act 2013. The former Secretary of State, John Whittingdale, indicated that he was ‘not minded’ to commence these provisions, see Hansard HC Deb, vol 608, col 1045, 21 April 2016.

174. Leveson, Lord Justice An Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press: Executive Summary and Recommendations HC779 (London: TSO, 2012) p 31 Google Scholar, available at (accessed 18 May 2016). More famously, during the oral evidence of Jeremy Paxman, Leveson expressed his determination that ‘not to do is to produce a document which simply sits on the second shelf of a professor of journalism's study for him to discuss with his students as yet another attempt that went nowhere’, in response to which Paxman quipped ‘As high as the second shelf, eh?’ (Afternoon Session, 23 May 2012) at 144.

175. For a detailed analysis, see Media Standards Trust IPSO: An Assessment (15 November 2013, available at (accessed 18 May 2016). Principally, it still acts in the shadow of an industry-dominated body, controlling its purse strings (the Regulatory Funding Company is very close to Pressbof in terms of membership and the powers it has over IPSO). Appointments are not sufficiently independent in terms of what Leveson recommended, and there is at present no arbitral arm.

176. For a discussion, see Moore and Ramsay, above n 7, pp 36–38. Although this model of regulation was rejected by Leveson, it was recognised as an improvement on existing arrangements (above n 1, pp 1648–1650).

177. Regulatory Funding Company/Editors' Code of Practice Committee Press Information: Editors' Code of Practice Revised (3 December 2015, available at (accessed 18 May 2016). See R Greenslade ‘Editors' code revised to prevent gender bias and wayward headlines’ The Guardian 3 December 2015, available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

178. HL Select Committee on Communications, above n 172, at Q30. Amendments have been made to its complaints and sanctions procedures, with IPSO taking control over the content of its procedural rules. These include the introduction of own-initiative investigations, and the simplification of the rules on a ‘standards investigation’, which may ultimately result in substantial fines up to a maximum of £1 million. See IPSO Press Release ‘IPSO announces new rules and regulations, gaining increased powers and enhanced independence’ (10 February 2016), available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

179. Jackson, J and Martinson, JIpso agrees four-year funding deal to “underline independence”The Guardian 10 February 2016 Google Scholar, available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

180. IPSO Arbitration Project Report: A Report Summarizing the Issues Relating to Press Arbitration and Outlining Proposals for an IPSO Arbitration Scheme (June 2015, available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

181. IPSO Press Release ‘IPSO announces new rules and regulations’ (24 February 2016), available at (accessed 18 May 2016). The terms of references range from IPSO's independence and funding levels to its effectiveness in dealing with complaints and imposing remedies. On the independent review, see (accessed 18 May 2016).

182. HL Select Committee on Communications Press Regulation – Where Are We Now? HL Paper 135, 23 March 2015, available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

183. For a defence of IPSO and its effectiveness, see IPSO ‘Reality regulation: a lecture by Sir Alan Moses’ 12 April 2016, available at (accessed 18 May 2016). For a powerful riposte, see S Carne ‘Sir Alan Moses and the Culture Secretary’ 17 April 2016, available at (accessed 18 May 2016).

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‘Moving in concentric circles’? The history and politics of press inquiries
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