By Ian Lucas MP
David Cameron gave a promise to victims of crime that ‘Leveson Two’ would take place after relevant criminal proceedings were concluded.
That undertaking was supported in all parts of the House and followed revelations of appalling actions by some journalists and other people paid by many of our major newspapers.
I believe that promise should be kept.
Twenty-one years ago, I was the solicitor acting for Trevor Rees-Jones, the bodyguard who survived the crash which killed the Princess of Wales. He was gravely injured.
Notwithstanding the fact that I made very clear from the outset that neither Trevor nor his family would be saying anything to the Press, he and they were subjected to gross invasions of their privacy at a time of acute distress. This was not about investigative journalism. It was about making money for newspapers from a tragedy.
Following the Milly Dowler case, and others, and following the first part of the Leveson Inquiry, I hoped that our newspapers and press would treat our victims of crime with more respect. However, I was dismayed, only this week, to read the following words from Professor John Tulloch, following his experiences in the 7/7 attack in 2005.
Professor Tulloch said: “I was seated in one of the train carriages in which explosives were detonated, and I suffered life-changing injuries as a result. Recovering from my injuries was difficult, but the trauma was intensified by relentless press intrusion.
“Not only was my phone hacked by at least one newspaper, but another newspaper used an image of me, bloodied and in shock, on the front page of its newspaper. It was a gross intrusion of my privacy. My face was published to millions of people across the country without my consent ever being sought.”
Worse still, following the first part of the Leveson Inquiry, certain journalists still behaved appallingly following the Manchester Arena attacks in 2017.
In Professor Tulloch’s words: “Thirteen years have passed since those London bombings and the appalling treatment of victims by the press, but the Kerslake Review into the Manchester Arena attack shows how little behaviour has changed within some elements of the press.”
The Kerslake Review summarised: “The Panel was shocked and dismayed by the accounts of the families of their experiences with some of the media. They spoke of being ‘hounded’, of a ‘lack of respect’, and of ‘sneaky’ attempts to take photos when families were receiving bad news.”
The Review states that there were at least two examples of journalists posing as medical staff or other professionals, and provides several profoundly disturbing comments from victims themselves.
This cannot go on. Victims of crime need protection not intimidation. They have waited far too long already and the Government should honour the promise given to them by a Prime Minister of this great country.