A lot of hopes rest with this man. Has he the courage and independence to do a rigorous investigation? Will he investigate any linkages he finds to the London bombings? Does the institution of nobility oblige an individual to support the state/monarchy to whom he owes his title? Does he serve the law and accountability or the status quo? Thanks to Roth.
Rose West prosecutor to head wide-ranging hacking inquiry
Joe Murphy, Political Editor
London Evening Standard, 13 Jul 2011
The man who prosecuted Rose West could question media tycoon Rupert Murdoch under oath as part of an inquiry into the phone hacking scandal announced today.
Lord Justice Leveson will have the authority to call leading figures from News International as well as top politicians and senior policemen.
His historic inquiry will cover not only hacking and corrupt payments to police officers, but also a wider look at the “cosy” relationships between the press, political leaders and the police.
Announcing the inquiry in the Commons, David Cameron said it was time to confront a disgraceful episode and “a failure of our political system over many, many years”.
After a week of struggling to keep up with the torrent of revelations, Mr Cameron sought to regain the initiative by dramatically beefing up the promised judge-led inquiry and widening its scope far beyond the News of the World’s grubby antics.
His choice of judge was widely applauded. As Brian Leveson QC, he was an outstanding prosecutor whose most famous success was in leading the team of lawyers that demolished West’s defence. She received a life sentence for her part in 10 murders, and he was praised by the trial judge as “precise and analytical”.
There will now be one inquiry, into the allegations of hacking and bribery and other alleged criminal acts, with a sub-inquiry into the wider question of how such crimes took place without sufficient political or police concern.
The judge will be in charge of a panel of experts in media, politics and the law who will look into press regulation, media ethics and the influence of powerful proprietors. It will report in a year but the overall inquiry will not get into the hacking allegations until current criminal cases are over.
Lord Justice Leveson will have powers to compel witnesses, demand documents and to take evidence on oath, which means anyone caught telling lies could be jailed.
Calling for cross-party agreement, Mr Cameron said: “What this country – and this House – has to confront is an episode that is frankly disgraceful. Accusations of widespread law-breaking by parts of our press.
Alleged corruption by some police officers. A failure of our political system over many, many years to tackle a problem that’s been getting worse. We must keep front and centre the real victims.
“Relatives of those who died at the hands of terrorism, war heroes, murder victims, people who have already suffered in a way that we can barely imagine have been made to suffer all over again.
“We all want the same thing: press, police and politicians that serve the public.”
The inquiry terms are beefier than those set out by Mr Cameron last Friday, when he spoke of the judge-led inquiry only looking into the criminal allegations of hacking and corrupt payments to police. Now the judge will delve deeper and wider.
Mr Cameron told MPs he wanted the judge to start as soon as possible, meeting concerns that evidence could be destroyed by News International during any further delay.
He is consulting the Cabinet Secretary about possible rules to make ministers disclose contacts with newspaper editors, chief executives and proprietors.
Following a meeting at No 10 with Metropolitan Police chief Sir Paul Stephenson, they agreed the inquiry will look into the failure of the original police probe into hacking to unearth the true extent of wrongdoing.
More than 70 MPs were allowed to question Mr Cameron after his 90-minute statement. Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed credit for taking the lead on a phone hacking inquiry as he welcomed Mr Cameron’s announcement.
“We must take the steps necessary to restore the public’s faith in the police’s ability to hold all of who have broken the law to account,” he said.
“People like the Dowler family and other members of the public who are the innocent victims of phone hacking deserve a full and comprehensive inquiry. They need us to get on with the inquiry and get to the truth.”
Mr Miliband said it was an “insult” to the Dowler family that Rebekah Brooks, who was the News of the World’s editor at the time, was still chief executive at the now defunct newspaper’s publisher News International.
On press regulation, he said: “Our instinct should continue to be for self- regulation, but it needs to be proved that self-regulation can be made to work.”
And he welcomed the inquiry’s probes into cross-media ownership, telling MPs: “Abuses of power are more likely to happen when there are excessive concentrations of power.”
‘Intense’ Judge a popular choice
by Paul Cheston
Lord Justice Leveson’s appointment to the phone hacking inquiry will be widely applauded in Fleet Street as well as legal circles.
He was an outstanding prosecutor – best known for his role in the trial of Rosemary West, Britain’s most prolific woman serial killer – and quickly rose through the ranks as a judge in criminal trials and at the High Court to become a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2006.
Although not a gregarious socialiser, court reporters felt he was intense but amiable and helpful.
While he is not known for his love of courtroom humour – he reacted with visible irritation to teasing by the Rose West trial judge Lord Justice Mantell – he did crack one of the better asides heard at the Old Bailey.
Hearing one of the three trials involving juveniles accused of murdering Peckham schoolboy Damilola Taylor, he impishly warned the jury to ignore the then-popular TV character Judge John Deed.
“Whatever they do on television I can assure you it doesn’t represent English law,” he told them with mock gravity.
Now 62, he was appointed to the highly prestigious post of chairman of the Sentencing Council in July last year.