Theresa May vows to fight Lords bid for fresh Leveson probe

Posted On: 
11th January 2018

Theresa May today accused peers of trying to “undermine” the press and vowed to overturn their bid for another Leveson-style inquiry.

Theresa May giving a speech on the environment at the London Wetland Centre this morning
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister insisted the Government would cancel out last night’s vote, which saw Lords back an amendment to the Data Protection Bill by 238 to 209.

The move, which seeks to trigger an investigation into the industry's culture, practice and ethics, has already been branded an attempt to "restrict press freedom" by new Culture Secretary Matt Hancock.

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Speaking in London this morning, Mrs May said she "passionately" supported a free press.

“I think that the impact of this vote would undermine high quality journalism and a free press," she said.

"I think it would particularly have a negative impact on local newspapers which are an important underpinning of our democracy.

“I believe passionately in a free press. We want to have a free press that is able to hold politicians and others to account and we will certainly look to overturn this vote in the House of Commons."

The original Leveson Inquiry into press behaviour was ordered by David Cameron in the wake of the phone hacking scandal and took place between 2011 and 2012. 

The new probe would further investigate the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within news publishers and other media organisations.

The amendment was tabled by Baroness Hollins, who said she was made aware of "inaccurate, corrupt and illegal practices" in the press after her daughter Abigail Witchalls was left paralysed after being stabbed in 2005.

Last night, Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said the Government should live up to then-prime minister David Cameron’s promise of a second phase of the inquiry examining links between the media and the police.

"In 2012, all parties made a promise to the victims of phone hacking. At many times since then the Tories have tried to renege on that promise," he said.

"Unlike the Tories, Labour has always stood by the victims of hacking and press intrusion with promises in each of our past manifestos to enact all the recommendations of Leveson.

“These votes send a signal to the Tories: that they must keep their promises."