Brian Leveson wrote to the government earlier this year insisting the second phase of his inquiry should be ‘commenced as soon as possible’. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters
The government has narrowly defeated a Labour bid to force it to launch the second phase of the Leveson inquiry into press behaviour.
MPs were voting on an amendment to the data protection bill tabled by the former Labour leader Ed Miliband. The government won the vote by 304 votes to 295, a majority of nine.
The Conservative manifesto for last year’s general election said Theresa May’s government would not proceed with the second stage of Leveson. During a two-hour debate on Wednesday, the culture secretary, Matt Hancock, said it would be the wrong way of tackling the most pressing questions facing the media industry.
He praised the low-cost arbitration system for victims of press intrusion set up by the Independent Press Standards Organisation). Ipso is voluntary, and not officially recognised.
“I am determined that we have a system that is strengthened so that we have recourse to justice when things go wrong,” he said. “The choice isn’t between doing something, and nothing. It is between doing something, and something better.”
Sir Brian Leveson was appointed in July 2011 in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of the News of the World, and spent many months examining witnesses, ultimately reporting in November 2012.
When the inquiry was launched, a second phase was envisaged, which would cover cases under criminal investigation when phase one was carried out. Leveson wrote to the government earlier this year insisting he believed the second phase of his inquiry should be “commenced as soon as possible”.Ed Miliband attacks government’s axing of new Leveson inquiry – video
The shadow media secretary, Tom Watson, opted not to press for a vote on a separate amendment he had tabled, aimed at forcing the government to trigger section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act of 2013.
Passed in the wake of Leveson, section 40 would impose punitive legal costs on English media organisations that refused to sign up to an officially recognised press regulator. At present, the only such regulator is Impress.
Hancock robustly rejected the idea of implementing section 40, warning that it would accelerate the decline of local newspapers and undermine investigative reporting.
Allies of Watson said he had dropped his bid to force a vote on the issue when it became clear that the SNP would abstain – but some Labour MPs had also expressed concerns.
Miliband, who tabled the Leveson 2 amendment, gave an angry speech, accusing the Conservatives of abandoning promises made to the victims of the phone-hacking scandal by him and his then fellow leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
“No ifs, no buts, no maybes. A clear promise. And a promise to victims of the press. And here we are 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 … I say to members across the house, whatever party they are in, this is about our honour. This is a matter of honour about the promise we made,” he said.
“We said to them that this time it will be different, this time we won’t flinch, I promise you we will see this process through.”
Labour’s Liam Byrne said: “If we have learned one thing from the last 10 to 12 years, whether it is the expenses scandal, whether it is Hillsborough, whether it is Orgreave: it is never the right thing to look at a scandal and decide it is too expensive, or we’re too busy, to get to the bottom of what happened. And that is the core of the argument to let Brian Leveson finish his job.”
The veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke pointed out to Hancock that both of them had served in the previous Tory government, which promised to carry out Leveson 2. He accused his colleagues of “currying favour with newspaper proprietors and editors”.
“Why is he cancelling a previously promised inquiry? What on earth is the reason for stopping investigations into the kind of thing we are talking about? No one else would stop investigations like this into any other body in this country,” Clarke said.
Hancock insisted the Leveson inquiry had been a “thorough and diligent examination” of the activities of the press. “The inquiry was followed by three major police investigations leading to more than 40 convictions,” he said.
Hancock sparked anger on Labour benches by announcing that the government had ordered a review into the compliance of the media in Northern Ireland with new media rules, in an apparent concession to the DUP.
The government relies on the votes of the DUP’s MPs to secure a majority, and the DUP’s Ian Paisley described the review as “Leveson for Northern Ireland”.
Miliband asked: “Why can there be a Leveson for NI and not for the rest of the UK?”
The Family Link app for Android is shown. (Google)
If you want to supervise the online activity of your kids or teens who were given a smartphone this Christmas, you can install an app to control internet access, filter inappropriate websites and content, and block specific apps. Here’s a selection of some of the most comprehensive parental control apps on the market.
Qustodio’s parental control operates in a similar way, and provides a daily online activity report for each child. Device screen time limits can also be set for each child. With the free version of the app, you can only supervise one child on one device. Otherwise, the cost of the subscription fee depends on the number of kids and devices covered.
This very comprehensive app also monitors kids’ online activity on different mobile devices. As an example, it can block an app after it has been used for a certain period of time, and the child is warned by a virtual coach when they are approaching the fixed limit. While the app itself is free, the cost of subscribing to the service starts at $2.99 a month and rises depending on the number of devices used by the children.
File photo: A group of graduates gather outside the Sheldonian Theatre to have their photograph taken after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University. (REUTERS)
The Oxford and Cambridge University of the United Kingdom have picked the Top Slot of #1 and #2 together for first time ever in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018. While the University of Oxford maintained its unabated #1 ranking second year in a row, the University of Cambridge laurelled it way up to grab #2 position from #4 last year.
“We are very proud to claim the top spot in the @timeshighered World University Rankings for the second year running: http://po.st/aBxqGX”
The California Institute of Technology, US dropped from #2 to #3 while the Stanford University maintained its positioned at #3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Princeton University and Imperial College London strengthened their positions with #5, #6, #7 and #8 respectively as last year; while University of Chicago pulled down Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in an exchange of positions for #9 and #10.
Speaking about the latest survey, Professor Alan Smithers – Director of Centre for Education and Employment Research, University of Buckingham stated ‘The fears that Brexit would damage our leading universities appear to be just scaremongering.’
The current and first female Vice Chancellor of the Oxford University – Louise Richardson was under fire recently for the ‘university fat cat’ row that has brought the Pay packages of University Chief under public scrutiny. As per the ongoing debate, there are educational heads who draw coffers more than even the Prime Minister of the UK. The VC justified her £350,000 pay package and remarked the politicians propagating against VCs as ‘mendacious’ and ‘tawdry’ and their comments damaging to the education sector of the United Kingdom.
However, Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018 bring a proud moment for the country where Educational scenario is facing a lot of political pressure and with both the Universities holding the Number One and Number Two slot first time in the 13-year history of Times Higher Education World University Rankings brings a sigh of relief to some.
Talking about India, the Top-ranked Indian Institute of Science (IISc) dropped from 201-250 club to 251-300 club while IIT Delhi and IIT Kanpur fell from 401- 500 band to 501-600 band. IIT Bombay maintained its position in 351-400 slot and IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorkee stayed fixed in 501-600 window.
Commenting on India rankings, Editorial Director of the Times Higher Education (THE) Global Rankings Phil Baty stated “It is disappointing that India has declined in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings amid increasing global competition,” “As leading universities in other Asian territories such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore are consistently rising up the rankings, in part thanks to high and sustained levels of funding, India’s flagship Indian Institute of Science moves further away from the elite top 200.”
Not so much theatre shows as exercises in tedium, these new pieces from Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh would never have seen the light of day if they didn’t have his name attached. An audience expecting the skanky wit and vim of Trainspotting will be disappointed by this duo of tired and clumsy plays.
Performers, written with Dean Cavanagh, is potentially the more interesting of the two. Apparently, when making the 1970 movie Performance, which starred Mick Jagger and James Fox, directors Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell wanted to hire real villains to play the gangsters. Their quest for authenticity sees low-life criminals Alf (Perry Benson) and Bert (George Russo) turning up at the production offices. But with slack direction from Nick Moran, it has all the tension of a used teabag. The comic tour de force that is supposed to ensue when a pretentious young assistant director persuades Alf to take off his clothes is embarrassingly limp.
Set in 1969, it would have looked dated and if it had actually been written that year, and – in their own quest for authenticity – Welsh and Cavanagh appear to have copied out a cockney rhyming slang dictionary lock, stock and barrel.
If Performers aims for comic grittiness and misses by a mile, Creatives is all bland, slick shininess; straight out of the Fame mould. It’s a musical, written with Don de Grazia, about a group of would-be songwriters attending a Chicago course run by former punk Paul, whose career has nosedived and whose personal life is complicated.
The students are all stereotypes, ranging from moody goth girl to (bizarrely) a redneck Trump supporter, and the entire thing starts to resemble an audition for the X Factor but with less convincing back stories, until a violent plot twist pushes it into outright melodrama.
The US cast are game, and Laurence Mark Wythe’s music and lyrics cry out for a better vehicle than this cliched attempt to explore the price of creativity and the pressures to sell out for a quick buck. One imagines that is exactly what Welsh has done with these abysmal efforts.