For the seventh time in less than 70 years, a report has been commissioned by the Government which has dealt with concerns about the press.
1 It was sparked by public revulsion about a single action – the hacking of the mobile phone of a murdered teenager. From that beginning, the scope of the Inquiry was expanded to cover the culture, practices and ethics of the press in its relations with the public, with the police, with politicians and, as to the police and politicians, the conduct of each. It carries with it authority provided personally by the Prime Minister. It requires me to consider the extent to which there was a failure to act on previous warnings as to the conduct of the press, the way in which the press has been regulated (if it has) and, in any event, how regulation should work in the future.
2. The inclusion of the relationship between the press and the police came about because of public concern that the police had become too close to the press in general, and News International in particular, with the result that the investigation of phone hacking had not been conducted with the rigour that it deserved and calls for re-consideration of the allegations were ignored. Inclusion of the press and politicians followed not only because of the political consensus from the Government and Opposition parties that politicians had been too close to the press but also because of concerns about the bid by News Corporation for the remaining shares in BSkyB plc.
The operation of the wider regulatory framework in relation to data protection, together with consideration of issues of plurality of ownership and its effect on competition came to be included as wider consideration was given to the all embracing nature of the Terms of Reference for Part 1.