Press 'need to act' after Leveson

From left: Steve Coogan (Pic: Getty Images) Charlotte Church (Pic: Reuters) Gerry McCann (Pic: Getty Images) Steve Coogan, Charlotte Church and Gerry McCann attended the inquiry

Those who have fallen foul of some sections of the British press have been giving their reaction to the publication of Lord Justice Leveson's report into the country's media practices.

Comic actor Steve Coogan, a victim of phone hacking who gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry, wrote in the Guardian: "By rejecting Leveson's call for statutory regulation, Cameron has hung the victims of crime out to dry. He has passed on the opportunity to make history. He has revealed there isn't an ounce of substance in his body, that he has one eye on courting the press for elections in years to come, and doesn't know the meaning of conviction.

"Quite simply, if future regulation is not backed by statute, Leveson's report is nothing more than a large slap on the wrist. But this is a price Cameron is prepared to pay, because it is not the victims of crime who will get him re-elected."

Gerry McCann, father of the missing girl, Madeleine McCann, gave the Leveson Inquiry detailed evidence of what he and his wife Kate called the "disgusting" and "offensive" stories written about them.

He said : "I would have like to have seen a properly independent regulation of the press whereas I think he's given the press another opportunity of self-regulation. I've also got concerns that the system is not compulsory and I would have liked to have seen a mechanism put in place for that.

"Thirdly, I would have liked to have seen more focus on individual accountability. I don't really accept the point that having having a regulated industry doesn't mean that they're free to write what they want, and Lord Leveson is very clear on that."

Author JK Rowling said she was "alarmed and dismayed" at Mr Cameron's reaction to the report.

"Without statutory underpinning, Leveson's recommendations will not work. We will be left with yet another voluntary system from which the press can walk away.

"If the prime minister did not wish to change the regulatory system even to the moderate, balanced and proportionate extent proposed by Lord Leveson, I am at a loss to understand why so much public money has been spent and why so many people have been asked to re-live extremely painful episodes on the stand in front of millions."

Professor John Tulloch, survivor of the 7/7 London bombings and whose phone was hacked by the News of the World, said the media were more concerned about turning a profit than journalism.

"Our print industry, media industry, is not free in the sense of the great tradition. It's corporate. And it's to do with profit, it's to do with selling people's stories for profit - including my own - when it suited them."

Paul Dadge, who helped survivors of the 7/7 bombings and also had his phone hacked, said Prime Minister David Cameron should support the public view over that of the press.

He said: "There's an opportunity here for this to backfire on him spectacularly. He has either got to side with the public or with the press. There's no half-way house.

"The press have had their opportunity for the last 70 years. It's now time for the public and for victims to have their voices heard."

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Former TV presenter, Anne Diamond, told the inquiry she and her family were ''besieged'' by reporters within one hour of finding out her baby son Sebastian had died.

She now says Mr Cameron is "worried about alienating the very press he needs support from to win the next election and the problem is that if he kicks this into the long grass, if he announces committees and various people to look into this, if he just puts it off and puts it off and puts it off, it will become a subject that's impossible for any of the political parties to discuss, because we will be in a pre-election term and nobody will want to go there".

Labour MP Chris Bryant, another victim of phone hacking by journalists, said: "The biggest condemnation in this document is of politics over the last 30 years, because Lord [Justice] Leveson said we have all failed and sometimes we failed to act because we were too frightened about what would be written in newspapers about us personally or about our party politics."

Singer Charlotte Church, appearing on BBC One's Question Time, said: "Leveson has said to the press - 'You take responsibility, you guardians, you take responsibility, you make your own rules', which is a very privileged position to be in, and all that the statutory underpinning should be able to do is make sure that there is a body that those rules are enforced, and I don't see any way in which that can affect the free press."

Former Formula 1 boss Max Mosley, who sued the News of the World for privacy damages over claims that he was involved in a "sick Nazi orgy", said: "It would make the situation much better than it is now and what he has done is more or less give the press what the Hunt-Black proposals would want, but with a statutory underpinning to make sure there's no backsliding and no cheating.

Charlotte Church, speaking on Question Time: 'I agree with the Leveson report'

"The only real omission is that if you want to stop something coming out because you find that they are going to breach your privacy, you would still have to go to court to do that, which of course is very expensive."

Christopher Jeffries is a retired school teacher who won damages thought to be in the region of around £500,000 from eight newspapers who had linked him with the murder of Joanna Yates in Bristol in December 2010.

He told BBC News the Leveson recommendations "are proportionate, reasonable and entirely workable and I can see no reason at all why the prime minister should feel there is any part of the recommendation that he's unable to implement fully".

He added: "It seems to me to be quite unacceptable that there should be cherry-picking in this way.

"The damage is already done in my case, and although I did get some redress, that experience will live with me forever... arrangements should be put in place to ensure that nobody in the future is put into the position that I was put in."

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