Leveson Inquiry archive important contribution to debate and education on media ethics

Leveson Inquiry archive important contribution to debate and education on media ethics

Kingston University has published an archive of the Leveson Inquiry six years after it reported, thwarting fears that it would end up “on the second shelf of a professor of journalism’s study.”

The Discover Leveson website is online archive that consists of a comprehensive, fully searchable and freshly curated educational resource.

It provides access to a wealth of evidence from the landmark inquiry, which examined the central role of news and journalism in modern society.

The Leveson Inquiry was established in July 2011 by the then-Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. It heard evidence for more than eight months exploring the media's relationship with the public, politicians and the police.

The Inquiry published the Leveson Report in November 2012 which made recommendations for a new, independent, body to replace the Press Complaints Commission.

David Cameron welcomed many of the findings but failed to bring forward legislation. The PCC was replaced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) in September 2014.

A second part of the inquiry was to be delayed until after a criminal prosecution against the News of the World for phone tapping but was dropped in March 2018.

Contribution to debate on media ethics

With debates raging over the press coverage of Brexit and concerns over so-called fake news on both sides of the Atlantic, the lessons of Leveson were more relevant now than ever, according to Kingston University's Professor of Journalism Brian Cathcart.

“It's easy to forget how big the Leveson Inquiry was. It heard from prime ministers, newspaper proprietors and editors, police chiefs, lawyers, working journalists, victims of press abuse - there's never been anything quite like it.” 

“This is a real goldmine of insights into journalism and it covers far more ground than most people imagine. If this material just rests on a shelf, we are never going to learn from it and its efforts will be wasted.”

Featuring video testimonies and transcripts from the inquiry's 198 public sessions, the Discover Leveson website also contains witness statements and submissions as well as the Leveson Report itself.

There are short essays on each of the key themes raised by the Inquiry including privacy, regulation, phone hacking and the internet, all pointing to key evidence.

It includes hundreds of new biographies alongside dozens of short essay guides introducing the inquiry's key themes, as well as state-of-the-art search technology.

The free-to-use, accessible resource will benefit students, researchers and professionals working in fields as diverse as journalism, media, communications, law, history, politics and criminology. 

Professor Cathcart said the archive could even provide a template for the treatment of other landmark inquiries in the future.

“Public inquiries can be tremendously important explorations of the big issues confronting society but too often most of what is learned passes out of public sight and is quickly forgotten. We hope Discover Leveson will lead the way for other inquiries to be opened up in this way.”

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