Commentary: The United Kingdom’s Leveson Inquiry has been the hottest free show in town since it began taking evidence in November 2011 until the first phase of the Inquiry concluded on 24 July 2012. During that time, the general public has been exposed to a tsunami of information from the great and the good in Britain, which raised questions not only about journalism practices and ethics but the separation of powers and the rule of law. The importance to any democracy of an independent judiciary cannot be overestimated. Sir Brian Leveson began the inquiry by posing the question: Who guards the guardians? He stressed that the concept of the freedom of the press was a fundamental part of any democracy and that he had no desire to stifle freedom of speech in Britain. This article reflects on missed opportunities and considers the future for press regulation in Britain. It also makes the point that irrespective of whatever new regime is established, it is time for proprietors, editors and journalists to stand up for responsible, public interest journalism and only then will there be an outside chance that the public’s faith in mainstream journalism will be restored.
Image caption: Colin Myler, last editor of the News of the World, holds up a copy of the final edition of the newspaper outside the office in Wapping, East London, 9 July 2011. - IB Times/Paul Hackett