Brighton was touched with a smidgen of stardust this evening as Steve Coogan surfaced with the Hacked Off pressure group. Having previously appeared as a public face for press reform, the comedian spoke to stress his role in the campaign is not a personal one, despite not being a ‘strong campaigning person’:
‘I’m just here to give voice to those who do feel strongly about this, having had their privacy invaded and the press behave in quite a despicable way and an abusive way — those people who haven’t got the wherewithal to be here. I’m speaking on their behalf.
Clearly there are examples of where the press have exceeded their brief. Take the example of Hillsborough and how badly treated the victims and families were and it’s taken some 20 odd years for that to come out.’
The leader of the Hacked Off group, ex-Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris, revealed that after a meeting today with Nick Clegg, the Tories and Liberal Democrats may not necessarily be bound to vote together on Lord Leveson’s recommendations for new regulation of the press:
‘He [Clegg] said he’s not bound by the coalition agreement to reach agreement with the Conservative Party on this. It was obvious in the room that the mathematics of Parliament, assuming that the Labour Party stick to their position then there is a majority in Parliament to implement the Leveson report, if it’s proportionate and workable.’
Harris also revealed that the Deputy Prime Minister gave away no details during their meeting of when the new legislation will be put to Parliament. The NUJ sense that the reforms are getting kicked into the long grass, warning that the ‘knives are already out for the Leveson Inquiry’. Their president Michelle Stanistreet suggested that the Inquiry needs a ‘true legacy to prove it hasn’t been a monumental waste of time, money and effort’.