English PEN refused core participant status in Leveson Inquiry

Lord Justice Leveson today announced the full list of core participants in his Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. He includes a number of alleged victims of phone hacking and several media organisations including News International and The Guardian. He does not include English PEN and Index on Censorship, who applied for core participant status on 6 September. Lord Justice Leveson explained that he would welcome the ‘significant and valuable experience’ of both organisations through the submission of evidence, participation in seminars and closing statements.
Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN, said: ‘It’s disappointing that the country’s leading free expression organisations will not be at the heart of the Leveson Inquiry. We hope that the Inquiry does not fall into a crude opposition between the media’s potentially self-serving account of free expression and the more censorious voices that are ranged against a free press. English PEN is committed to free expression as a human right, which must be balanced intelligently against other rights including privacy. We look forward to working with the Leveson Inquiry to ensure that gross intrusions such as unjustified phone hacking are treated with the utmost seriousness, without eroding the legal foundations of the free press.’
The following is an extract from Lord Justice Leveson’s statement on core participant status.

For the full statement, please click here.


English PEN and Index on Censorship

34. Two organisations vitally concerned with issues surrounding freedom of expression, the relationship between Articles 8 and 10 of the ECHR and the dangers and potentially chilling effect of state regulation applied for status as core participants. Mr Jonathan Heawood, Director of the writers‟ association, English PEN explained that his organisation was the founding centre of an international writers’ association which has 144 centres now in over 100 countries with members who are writers, journalists, publishers and editors. It has 90 years’ experience of working with and on behalf of writers whose freedom of expression has been threatened with loss of liberty and persecution as a consequence. He was anxious that the Inquiry understand some of the dangers that different regulatory frameworks could pose. In addition, Mr John Kampfner, Chief Executive of Index on Censorship (with a trustee, Mark Stephens of FSI Law) was also concerned with freedom of expression and explained that, in 40 years of work specifically with news media in this country and around the world, they were able to help build a narrative for Part 1 and assist with the navigation of a path between free expression, privacy, the determination of the public interest, and the prevention of otherwise well-meaning legislation having a chilling effect on press freedom.

35. I have no doubt that both groups have significant and valuable experience which will assist the Inquiry both in relation to evidence and submission as I seek to establish the narrative, and consider whether, and if so in what form, regulation of the press ought to be considered. Further, in one sense, both have a significant, albeit not, perhaps, direct interest in an important aspect of the matters to which the inquiry relates. Having said that, however, I am not satisfied that either need have core participant status in order to achieve the ends which both seek. Thus, I indicated to both that they may submit evidence, attend and potentially participate in seminars and apply to make closing representations to the Inquiry. In the circumstances, these applications are refused.

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/news/_1700

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