Hacking victims - 'betrayed' by UK PM

2012-11-29 23:28
David Cameron. (File, AP)

David Cameron. (File, AP) (Facundo Arrizabalaga)

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London - Victims of phone hacking and press intrusion in Britain said on Thursday they felt "betrayed" by Prime Minister David Cameron after he warned against introducing legislation to underpin regulation of newspapers.

The Hacked Off campaign had welcomed proposals from senior judge Brian Leveson that Britain's press should be overseen by an independent self-regulatory body given teeth through legislation.

But their members said they had been left feeling let down after Cameron said he had "serious concerns" about introducing laws governing the press, as Leveson proposed following a year-long inquiry.

Mark Lewis, a lawyer for the Dowler family whose murdered teenage daughter's phone was hacked by the News of the World newspaper, said a return to a system of self-regulation would be a backward step.

"I have spoken to some people who feel that they have been let down," Lewis said at a press conference with other Hacked Off members.

"There wasn't much point in a judicial inquiry unless it's implemented. It's snakes and ladders. We're going back down to where we started from."

Ed Blum, a film director whose mobile phone was hacked by the News of the World, said Cameron had "ripped out the heart and soul" of Leveson's report.

"With Cameron's statement today, he's let down the victims of press abuse," Blum said.

The head of Hacked Off, journalism professor Brian Cathcart, said he was concerned that Cameron's reaction indicated he was leaning towards introducing self-regulation proposals proposed by the newspaper industry itself.

New era

"What we're drifting towards now is the prime minister advocating the Hunt-Black plan. That was comprehensively demolished" in the report, he said.

"He will be flying in the face of Lord Justice Leveson's conclusions about self-regulation."

He said Christopher Jefferies, an innocent murder suspect who appeared at the inquiry, "feels betrayed".

Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry in July 2011 amid public anger when it emerged that the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World had hacked the phone of Milly Dowler, who was later found dead. Murdoch closed the Sunday tabloid down.

The mother of Madeleine McCann, who went missing in Portugal in 2007 aged three, said she hoped the Leveson report would "mark the start of a new era" for Britain's press.

Kate McCann, whose diary was published by the News of the World in 2008, leaving her feeling "mentally raped", said she hoped the press would now treat people in her position with more "care and consideration".

Read more on:    david cameron  |  uk  |  media  |  hacking
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