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December 16, 2015

Part two of the Leveson Inquiry has been ‘quietly shelved’ by Government

By Dominic Ponsford

The conclusion of Operation Weeting, announced on Friday, left the way open for part two of the Leveson Inquiry to finally commence.

But The Times reports government sources saying that it has been quietly shelved.

The first inquiry examined the culture, practices and ethics of the British press and published a 2,000-page report in November 2012.

The second part, looking at specific claims about phone-hacking at the News of the World and what went wrong with the original police investigation, was delayed pending the conclusion of criminal prosecutions.

But now these are over it looks like the second part of the inquiry will no longer go ahead.

The Times reported today that "the government had no appetite to launch formally the second part, given the costs involved, and a consensus that this ground had been covered during the criminal trials". There was also a report in the Daily Mail two days ago.

Joint executive director of campaign group Hacked Off Evan Harris said: “The Prime Minister committed to Leveson part two going ahead in the House of Commons, and personally promised it would go ahead to victims of press abuse in a private meeting.  Any decision to renege on the Prime Minister’s commitment over this would not be tolerated by the victims of press abuse or the public, who were both promised that the full truth would emerge.

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"Part two of Leveson is to shine a light on corruption in two of our most powerful industries – the police and the press – and without it we will never know how the hacking scandal came about and how such criminality was allowed to thrive for so long.  The public will not accept any excuse from the Government to properly hold these two institutions to account and commence part two of Leveson in due course, after criminal proceedings have concluded.

"If this was just the police or any other industry, the press would be rightly outraged at what appears to be a typical establishment cover-up.”

In November 2012 Press Gazette reported then head of the Commons media select committee John Whittingdale as saying that he did not believe part two of the inquiry would take place.

Speaking at the launch of the Free Speech Network, a coalition of publishers and other organisations opposed to statutory regulation, Whittingdale said: “My real regret – one of the key things I wanted Lord Justice Leveson to look into – was how it was that the News of the World newsroom appeared to allow this to go on… but also how the police sat around for four years and did nothing.

“Those are two things which Lord Justice Leveson may never examine. Part two of the inquiry, I hear, may not ever be occurring.

“Therefore, it seems very strange that actually the most important questions surrounding the hacking scandal may never be properly looked into.”

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