Gordon Brown calls for 'Leveson 2'
I can reveal that Gordon Brown has written to Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, arguing that his experience of the new press regulator IPSO strengthens the case for a second stage of the Leveson Inquiry.
The former Prime Minister had a complaint upheld against The Daily Telegraph, concerning his expenses. The paper re-published an old heading, "The Truth About the Cabinet Expenses", together with a picture of Brown and his brother.
Ipso found that the Telegraph "failed to acknowledge that it had effectively made a fresh allegation of abuse", and that this was a serious and unjustified allegation.
IPSO published its ruling yesterday afternoon and today's edition of the Telegraph acknowledges the complaint on page 2.
Now Brown, who wrote to Bradley some months back about the need for Leveson 2 - which looks at corporate malpractice specifically, rather than the broader issue of the nexus between politicians, police and the press - has repeated his call for that second stage to happen.
In his letter, which I have seen, Brown says: "IPSO has limited resources to investigate complaints. It is so underfunded that it relies heavily on the honesty of the newspaper under criticism." This contention is strongly denied by Sir Alan Moses, who runs IPSO and argues that his body has been effectively dealing with hundreds of complaints since inception.
Brown concludes: "It appears that parts of the press have not cleaned up their act despite promises to do so and we know that email hacking, impersonation, blagging and media relationships with the police have yet to be subject of a full investigation.
"The case for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry is now - in 2017 - even stronger than it was."
Could Leveson 2 happen?
Brown was a regular complainant to Ipso's predecessor, the Press Complaints Commission, and I have a feeling that the Telegraph, while acknowledging the error of their ways, believe this wasn't the greatest sin in the history of British public life.
But the real significance of Brown's latest intervention is the context. A decision of whether to go ahead with Leveson 2, and also Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 (which requires publishers to pay the costs of legal challenges against them, if they don't sign up to an approved regulator), was kicked into the long grass until after the election.
Conversations I have had in Westminster and No 10 this year had led me to believe this second stage of Leveson would be dropped. After all, the argument went, there was little political incentive to call one.
I am starting to hear well-informed whispers that suggest, however, it could yet happen. That is not to say it will. A decision has apparently not been made; and even if it has, we are entering a new world after the election, so any decision could change.
But two months ago I thought the probability of Leveson 2 taking place was low. Now it's higher. Brown wouldn't have written his letter if the whole idea was dead in the water.