Legitimate purpose – Leveson’s smoking gun

On Channel 4 News this evening Times columnist Camilla Cavendish neatly identified the smoking gun in Brian Leveson’s report on UK press ethics and regulation. It is contained in volume 4 of the full, 2,000 page report, in the form of a suggested statute clause…

“Interference with the activities of the media shall be lawful only insofar as it is for a legitimate purpose and is necessary in a democratic society, having full regard to the importance of media freedom in a democracy.”

This comes after another clause which refers to the responsibility of government to uphold press freedom. It is actually the responsibility of everyone from press owners to the most plebeian of tabloid readers to defend freedom of speech in a media context.

The above text is problematic, as it can be interpreted in any which way the state and judiciary see fit. The term “legitimate purpose”, and variations thereof, appears countless times in the Leveson report, and its author appears to have a fixation with legitimacy, or at least his personal interpretation of what constitutes legitimate journalism.