A statement released by the Leveson Inquiry late last night has raised doubts as to whether the second part of the Inquiry into press standards will go ahead, due to concerns over value and costs.
In the statement, Lord Justice Leveson expressed concern over the “enormous cost (both to the public purse and the participants)” and voiced his fear that the Inquiry may “trawl over material then more years out of date”.
While not ruling out the possibility of a second part, Lord Justice Leveson said: “It is likely that the process of pre-trial disclosure and trial will be lengthy so that Part 2 of this Inquiry will be delayed for very many months if not longer.”
In those circumstances, it seems to me that it is in everyone’s interests that Part 1 goes as far as it possibly can. If the transparent way in which the Inquiry has been conducted, the Report and the response by government and the press (along with a new acceptable regulatory regime) addresses the public concern, at the conclusion of any trial or trials, consideration can be given by everyone to the value to be gained from a further inquiry into Part 2.
Part Two of the Inquiry, intended to commence after any possible criminal trials would have been completed, would examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at News International and other media organisations.
Part One, which is currently underway, is looking at the culture, practices, and ethics of the press and will make recommendations based on the findings this autumn.
Follow Index on Censorship’s coverage of the Leveson Inquiry on Twitter – @IndexLeveson