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Heawood and Kampfner at Leveson Inquiry
24.01.12 | Benedicte Page
Jonathan Heawood, director of English PEN and Index on Censorship chief executive John Kampfner are to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry into media ethics and phone-hacking this morning (24th January).
Writing in today's Times, Kampfner warned that the inquiry had the potential to delay important reforms of England's libel laws. The real problem with the British press was not that it finds out too much, but that it finds out too little, he argued, with a major cause being the number of laws that impede proper scrutiny, in particular "our defamation culture".
"Index on Censorship, together with its partners, has been leading the campaign to reform England's libel laws. A defamation Bill has been drafted and should be included in the Queen's Speech in May, as ministers have promised . . . Yet some are now calling for delay, for defamation to be thrown into the post-Leveson soup," he wrote. "This would be folly.
"As he proceeds in his vital task of improving the standards of British journalism, Lord Justice Leveson should make clear that his inquiry will not be used as a device to delay implementation of a law that goes to the heart of democracy and the public's right to know."
English PEN's written submission to the inquiry has addressed the nature of public interest, exploring how the term—often understood to relate to the worlds of politics, business and finance—can also be considered to apply to the freedom of people to write about their private life, as in literary memoir.
Proceedings at the Leveson Inquiry can be followed at http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/hearings/ or on Twitter at @IndexLeveson.