Investigative journalist David Rose has warned that Lord Justice Leveson may well be about to "propose draconian curbs on those who struggle to investigate professionally, while giving a free pass to those who undermine their efforts with lies and slander".
He writes following his own experience of being monstered in the blogosphere and on Twitter this week and he is following up on reports that Leveson will not deal with the vast unregulated internet when he issues his report at some point in the next couple of weeks.
Rose writes: "Some form of licensing for reporters and newspapers, ultimately controlled by the State, would amount to a profound setback to freedom of speech, of the kind that matters most – the freedom to champion unpopular causes and challenge established orthodoxies. Yet the digital detractors who play to the bloggers' gallery, casually spreading their own fabricated universe to anyone who wants to 'follow' them, would be free to continue as before."
Last week Rose and Bob Woffinden wrote a story about Lord McAlpine accuser Steven Messham's history as an "unreliable witness".
He said that as a result he was branded "a cheerleader for paedophiles", a "wretched, toxic cancer". "a former MI5 agent" and "a fictitious individual concocted by this newspaper".
Rose writes: "All of it is libellous and highly defamatory. For an investigative journalist who works hard to expose hidden facts, it is also potentially very damaging. But it is only a small sample of allegations about me posted on blogs and Twitter after the article I wrote in last week's Mail on Sunday with my colleague Bob Woffinden on the dubious source of the BBC's false claim that Lord McAlpine was a paedophile."