Miliband vows to keep fighting for new Leveson inquiry

‘The battle goes on’: Ed Miliband vows to keep fighting for new Leveson inquiry in defiance of MPs vote in defence of the free and fair press

  • Ed Miliband wanted to use a Data Protection Bill to start another Leveson inquiry
  • But, despite an animated speech, his move was voted down in Parliament
  • Culture Minister Matt Hancock hails a ‘great day for a free and fair press’
  • Comedian John Cleese is mocked for saying he’ll leave England over the issue 

Ed Miliband has vowed the ‘battle goes on’ to secure a second Leveson inquiry in defiance of last night’s vote by MPs.

The ex-Labour leader was humiliated by the Commons after he made an emotional plea for the Government to U-turn on its cancellation of a renewed probe.

Mr Miliband was defeated in the lobbies when he tried to re-write the Data Protection Bill to force ministers to commission a new inquiry into newspapers’ behaviour.

The House of Lords could return to the issue as MPs deleted a clause in the bill specifying an inquiry should be held – meaning peers could force MPs to think again.

Ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband was humiliated by the Commons after he made an emotional plea for the Government to U-turn on its cancellation of a renewed probe 

Miliband has vowed the ‘battle goes on’ to secure a second Leveson inquiry in defiance of last night’s vote by MPs

Labour’s attempt to crackdown on the press would make investigative journalism ‘near impossible’, the Culture Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured in the Commons today) warned 

After he was defeated Mr MIiliband said: ‘Very disappointed for the victims of phone-hacking and press abuse that we did not win the vote for Leveson 2.

‘The battle goes on to keep our promise to them to get the truth they deserve and protection for victims in the future.’

Following the Commons vote last night, Culture Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ‘A great day for a free and fair press. We will work with closely IPSO [the press regulator] to make sure their important work continues.’ 

Before the vote, Mr Hancock had earlier warned the Labour attempt to strangle the ‘free and fair’ press would kill off investigative journalism in Britain.

John Cleese mocked after saying he’d leave Britain if vote failed 

John Cleese was mocked online today after he insisted he would leave the UK if Labour’s bid for a second Leveson inquiry failed. 

The former Monty Python comedian said the would be ‘out of here’ if Ed Miliband lost the vote, tweeting: ‘I refuse to live in an England like this.’

After the move was voted down today, followers asked him where he was planning to live.

Richard Faughey wrote: ‘Goodbye John. I would like to know just where you will go to live, where you believe there will be no corruption. If you believe Teresa May is corrupt you will struggle.’

Another Twitter user joked: ‘Try Somalia. Or Russia. They know to deal with pesky journalists.’

Tabloid The Sunday Sport wrote simply: ‘Missing you already…’

And MPs lined up to defend the Press, with Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg hailing newspapers as ‘overwhelmingly precious’.

He said: ‘The freedom of the Press is so overwhelmingly precious, that we should preserve it, even if sometimes the Press upsets us.

‘It is amazing how many people who have had run-ins with the Press have suddenly found that they think it should be more tightly regulated.’

When the vote finally came at 4pm, Mr MIliband’s plan to force the second phase of inquiry failed 304 votes to 295, majority 9. 

The failure to rally enough votes saw Labour deputy leader Tom Watson pull his own plans to force through punitive damages on newspapers – via the so-called section 40 law passed after Leveson one – after it became clear it would be defeated.

He had drawn up an amendment to  try to force newspapers t o join the statebacked regulator Impress.

Those who refused would have to pay the entire legal costs whenever somebody sued them – even if they won the case.

Critics had warned the move would have a chilling effect on the media – undermining investigative journalism and hitting titles with such punitive costs it could force their closure. 

Mr Miliband gesticulated wildly in the Commons as he claimed the failure to call the second round of the inquiry was a breach of ‘honour’ 

Mr Miliband’s new clause, which would have led to Leveson part two, was rejected

After the vote, the University of Kent’s Professor of Journalism, Tim Luckhurst, tweeted: ‘I am delighted that @hackinginquiry’s appalling amendments were defeated in the Commons today. 

‘Were they ever to return, Britain’s reputation as a bastion of free speech and a champion of democracy would be shattered. A free press serves us all.’

Jacob Rees-Mogg rallies to the defence of the press warning Leveson 2 would go against British justice

Jacob Rees-Mogg issued a rallying defence of the press today – warning that Leveson 2 would go ‘against British justice’.

The Tory MP said launching the costly probe would mean subjecting people who have already been tried by UK courts through a similar ordeal all over again.

He told the Commons: ‘Hasn’t this been decided in the jewel of our legal system, that is to say in front of a jury.

‘Some people accused of things that would have been part of Leveson two have been acquitted and some, very few, have been convicted.

‘Once somebody has been tried in front of a jury it is fundamentally unfair and unjust, it is a question of double jeopardy, if they are then brought before another tribunal, put once more on oath to repeat evidence that they have given before and then been acquitted.

‘So it would be against British justice to proceed in this way.’

Mr Hancock, opening the debate , said proposed new clauses would mean newspapers would risk having to pay costs even if a story was accurate and in the public interest.

He warned that the clauses would make it ‘near impossible’ to uncover stories of abuse as he highlighted the work of The Times’ chief investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk, who uncovered the Rotherham child abuse scandal. 

Mr Hancock said he wanted a free press that can ‘hold the powerful to account’ but also one that is fair.

‘While I want to see a press that is free to report without fear or favour, and to uncover wrongdoing and to hold the powerful to account, I also want to see a press that is fair and accurate too.

‘I am determined that we have a system that is strengthened so people have recourse to justice when things go wrong.’

He said regulator Ipso had recently brought in a system of ‘compulsory low cost arbitration’ which means ‘ordinary people’ can take claims to newspapers for a minimum of £50.

Mr Miliband launched a furious attack on the Government for not moving forward with Leveson two.

He told ministers that their actions had been ‘contemptible’.

After quoting then Prime Minister David Cameron who had pledged to launch the second part of the inquiry in 2012, Mr Miliband said: ‘No ifs, no buts, no maybes, a clear promise and a promise to victims, a promise to victims of the press and here we come along today and we have the Government saying ‘let’s dump this promise, it’s too expensive, it’s a distraction’.

‘How dare they, how dare they to the McCanns, the Dowlers, all those other victims. How can we be here, I say to members across this House whatever party they are in, this is about our honour.

‘This is a matter of honour about the promise we made.’ 

Sir Brian Leveson published the first phase of his inquiry in November 2012. The Government has cancelled the second part

Tory rebels – led by father of the House Ken Clarke – could not prevent the move from failing

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