The Leveson Inquiry into the British media has seen a minefield of accusations emerge over the past 48 hours as the British public has heard for the first time from victims at the centre of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, including Hugh Grant on bullying, a supermodel’s advisor accused of alcoholism, comedian Steve Coogan dishing it out to the tabloids, a former English footballer flying in, studs up, at the press and of course, the Dowler family.
The Leveson Inquiry, commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has been authorised to investigate the specific claims surrounding the News of the World phone hacking scandal and to take a wider look at the behaviour of the English media.
UK papers the Mail on Sunday and People have joined News of the World as media outlets accused of hacking into the phones of celebrities and members of the public alike. These particular accusations form the first part — “The Press and the Public” — of four modules to be investigated by Lord Justice Leveson.
The video footage of actor Hugh Grant, comedian Steve Coogan, Macpherson aide Mary-Ellen Field and the parents of Milly Dowler giving evidence to the Inquiry is compelling stuff:
Comedian Steve Coogan alleges he was targeted as part of a “sociopathic sting” by News of the World (click through to watch):
Here’s former Elle Macpherson aide Mary-Ellen Field claiming she was forced into rehab after being accused by Macpherson of leaking to the press and subsequently losing her job:
Actor Hugh Grant claimed a story published by the Mail on Sunday in which Grant had “late night phone calls with a plummy-voiced studio executive” whom was not his then girlfriend to be untrue and was taken from his voice mail:
The parents of murdered teenager Milly Dowler gave evidence of their false hope stemming from Milly’s voice mail messages being picked up:
The Inquiry is not without its critics. Andrew Gilligan, London editor of Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, has said:
“The [Leveson] inquiry decided before it even starts work that the current regime is not effective and needs replacing.
“In newspaper terms it has written the headlines before it has done the reporting. What happened at the News of the World was clearly not a failure of regulation … it was a failure of the police to enforce the law.
“The danger is that the behaviour of some tarnishes the reputation of all.”
Yet the inquiry is yet to turn its gaze to the English media’s relationship with the police and politicians and if the testimony thus far is anything to go by, the headlines to come may be the most damaging yet.