Brian Leveson, the U.K. judge running an investigation into media ethics, defended the inquiry’s ability to examine the press after complaints from the lawyer of former News Corp. (NWSA) tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks.
The inquiry, commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron following the phone hacking scandal at News Corp.’s News of the World, doesn’t intend to put out reports on journalists that would lead to or prejudice a criminal investigation, Leveson said today. Still, Leveson wouldn’t back away from criticizing individuals who may have misled the judicial probe by denying knowledge of past wrongdoing.
Individuals who may be censured by the inquiry will have a chance to respond, Leveson said. Stephen Parkinson, Brooks’s lawyer, said last week in the Daily Telegraph that testimony there may prejudice the right to a fair trial. Brooks stepped down as chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit after News of the World journalists were found to have hacked into a murdered schoolgirl’s voice mail for stories. She has been arrested and not charged with a crime.
“Witnesses have been summoned before both Parliament and the Leveson Inquiry,” Parkinson wrote. “While those under police investigation have been permitted to maintain their silence on issues central to that process, others have been questioned with few restrictions. As a result, much prejudicial material has come into the public domain.”
Police are conducting three investigations into voice mail and computer hacking and improper payments to police and public officials. The inquiry’s mandate is to publish recommendations for a better way to regulate the media.
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