Leveson report and political fallout as-it-happened
After months of waiting, Lord Justice Leveson's report is finally out this afternoon. Follow our live coverage as we assess its contents – and the political reaction – this afternoon.
Leveson sparks a slowburning political crisis
Two of the three main political parties have reason to be extremely satisfied by how today has panned out. The Liberal Democrats have picked a fight with the Conservatives on an issue of principle, not policy, and have shaken up the coalition in the process. Labour are more than happy to accept Leveson's proposals – they might even have gone for statutory regulation, but are delighted with this compromise. That just leaves David Cameron and the miserable Conservatives. The prime minister's party are split. And while he may attempt to kick up a fuss, the likelihood is that the differences between the two sides – Labour and the Lib Dems on the one hand, the Tory free-speechers on the other – won't be overcome on the big issue. Why should Labour and the Lib Dems compromise, after all? They've got the vote in the Commons. So my bet is that we'll end up with a free vote on the issue, as a way of making this appear to be something other than it is: a defeat for the Conservatives, who just didn't get enough votes at the last general election to force their will on the other two parties.
I'm going to wrap up now. But before going, here's a little plug for my podcast on Leveson and the internet. It features all sorts of excellent interviews and, in the last two or three minutes, a discussion with Ian Dunt recorded, somehow, while doing this live blog at the same time, on what's next for journalism and politics.
Nick Clegg's statement
16:55 – That's the end of the statement.
16:53 – Zac Goldsmith, Tory backbencher, says the Commons is clearly split. So he suggests a free vote. "Before we get to that we should seek a cross-party approach to dealing with these things," he says. It's a good thing that there are differences of view on such a fundamental, important issue of principle, he says. "I just hope we don't allow those differences of view to become an alibi for inaction."
16:50 – John Hemming wonders why the internet doesn't get regulated. Clegg says Leveson made a distinction between the printed press and online, and just about leaves it at that. Then comes Labour's Paul Farrelly. He wants to know how he's going to "give effect to his views" when the PM is against them. Clegg says the best option is not to start "digging trenches". Cameron is busying himself with his notes, ignoring the question and ignoring Clegg.
16:46 – John Baron, a Tory right-winger, calls on Clegg to fix the legal system. But the DPM rejects the suggestion that this can be fixed through the courts, and nowhere else. He says Baron should read the evidence put forward by Gerry McCann.
16:42 – Now Peter Bone is on the offensive, complaining about collective responsibility being "swooshed away". He wants Clegg to resign. Lots of laughter in the chamber, but also calls of "more!" from some backbenchers. Clegg tells Bone he just doesn't "get" coalition.
16:38 – Interesting constitutional point from Tory backbencher Mark Reckless, who wonders whether the deputy PM is speaking for the government. If he's not, what does this mean for the doctrine of collective responsibility? Clegg is dismissive. There's no such thing as collective responsibility in a coalition where there's disagreement, he says. The key is to be "relaxed and grownup".
16:37 – Now Clegg sounds like he's talking to a small child. "I want to find a solution to-ge-ther," he says, in maximum patronising mode.
16:34 – Clegg says it's a "slightly absurd position" to argue that any kind of law constrains free press. He's getting lots of sympathy from Labour, and next to none from the Tories sitting behind him. Although don't forget there are 42 Tory MPs who have called for some form of regulation. The Conservatives could well be split straight down the middle on this.
16:30 – There's a fascinating, and extremely unusual, dynamic taking place in the Commons right now. Clegg says he hesitates to repeat the prime minister's views (which are different from his own) "while he's sitting right next to me". This is actually a great advert for businesslike coalition politics. There's no sense of personal tension between the two.
16:28 – As Harman repeats most of what Miliband says before, this is a good opportunity to assess the political state of play. In short, it looks like Clegg is going to line the Lib Dems up with Labour to push through Leveson's proposals. Cameron is putting up a fight, but it looks as if his number is up. The DPM says he'll listen to Cameron's concerns, however.
16:26 – Harriet Harman is now responding to Clegg's comments. She's not laying into him, though – his "unprecedented" procedure was necessary, she says.
16:26 – Clegg finishes: "We need to get on with this without delay. We owe it to the victims of these scandals, who have already waited too long for us to do the right thing. Too long for an independent press watchdog in which they can put their trust. I am determined we do not make them wait any more."
16:23 – As expected, the deputy prime minister takes the opportunity to get in a jab against the 'establishment' parties – including his coalition colleagues. "It’s been suggested that using law will blur the line between politicians and the media. But we mustn’t ignore the extent to which that line has already been blurred under the current system of self-regulation. It’s the status quo which has allowed such cosy relationships between political and media elites to arise in the first place," he says.
16:21 – The text of Clegg's statement is now up on his website. The key passag is:
On the basic model of a new self-regulatory body, established with a change to the law in principle, I believe this can be done in a proportionate and workable way. I understand the entirely legitimate reasons why some members of this House are wary of using legislation. I have thought long and hard about this. I’m a liberal, I don’t make laws for the sake of it – and certainly not when it comes to the press. Indeed, when I gave my own evidence to the Inquiry, I made the point that, if we could create a rigorous, independent system of regulation which covers all of the major players, without any changes to the law, of course we should. But no one has yet come up with a way of doing that. Lord Justice Leveson has considered these issues at length. He has found that changing the law is the only way to guarantee a system of self-regulation which seeks to cover all of the press. And he explains why the system of sticks and carrots he proposes has to be recognised in statute in order to be properly implemented by the courts.
16:19 – "I know it's unusual, but this is an unusual debate," Clegg begins apologetically. He says he agrees with Cameron on an awful lot. But there are two big "liberal principles" at play. The need for a free press, and the need to protect the "vulnerable and the weak" from powerful vested interests. He says he wants to strike a "better balance" between these two "liberal principles".
16:17 – But here's a point of order from Peter Bone, who is trying to derail Clegg's statement completely! John Bercow swats it aside, and we move on to the main event…
16:13 – Meanwhile, the indications from the prime minister's spokesperson this afternoon are that the PM could very easily deal with this whole mess by offering a free vote to MPs. We're just moments away from seeing whether that will be necessary – Nick Clegg's statement is coming up shortly.
David Cameron's statement
16:15 – Jacob Rees-Mogg is the last MP to speak. He thanks Cameron for "standing up for our ancient liberties". He is not keen on legislation, that's for sure. The PM agrees.
16:06 – Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) makes the strong point that costs of distribution hinder many smaller print projects getting off the ground. Cameron makes the even stronger point that digital technology has made it cheaper. In other words: Why set up a newspaper when you can set up a website?
16:04 – Angie Bray (Tory) mentions that little old think, the internet. As more people read their news online, isn't it in teresting there are no rules around it at all? Of course, we are entirely uninterested in this statement.
15:58 – Barry Gardiner (Labour) asks why he thinks Leveson introduced the idea of legislation. Cameron doesn't really answer. Occassionally party-political point socring breaks out and Cameron siezes on it. "We've done more in two and a half years than the last party did in 13 years."
15:56 – Meg Hillier makes the good point that many investogative reporters are freelancers, although it's the sort of thing that can get hammered out in cross-party talks.Cameron is putting in a strong performance, he seems thoughtful and pensive.
15:52 – Sorry for the delay, some disastrous technical difficulties. Cameron backs the parts of the report praising the regional press for their work for the community. Our colleagues in the regional press part of the parliamentary lobby are happy with that.
15:43 – Keith Vaz, the home affairs committee, wants a commitment to the prime minister to give the Metropolitan police's investigations into phone-hacking enough resources. They might take another three years, he points out.
15:42 – And now a Tory MP stands up and calls for Labour to apologise over their "smears" against Jeremy Hunt. The political temperature is rising ahead of Nick Clegg's statement…
15:41 – Chris Bryant says: "Surely if we don't do what he says, which is provide a change in the law, there will be more Milly Dowlers, and that will be our fault." Cameron can't help but be partisan in response. The problem with the political class is them not apologising when they get it wrong, he complains. A bit of a political jab there.
15:38 – Tim Farron, the Lib Dem party president, calls for a "rational and balanced" approach. He's hostile to Cameron, who has claimed parliament is being asked to cross a "Rubicon". It's not even a "rug", Farron says.
15:36 – Joan Ruddock, Labour, says: "The prime minister is splitting this House." She attacks him for a "dereliction of duty" in not accepting Leveson. But Cameron says it would be a dereliction of duty to forget centuries of parliament defending free speech. David Davis, his former leadership rival, is very keen on Cameron's stance. The PM soaks up the praise, and the long afternoon wears on.
15:35 – John Whittingdale, the Tory chair of the Commons' culture, media and sport committee, gets groans from MPs when he suggests his committee ought to look at the issue and work out whether the law is alright, or not. That's what's known as a power grab…
15:32 – Next comes Jack Straw, who suggests it's simply impossible to achieve Leveson's recommendations without legislation. "He wants to take steps that will avoid statutory regulation of the press, I fully accept that," Cameron says. The prime minister doesn't explain what his objections are, though. Sir Malcolm Rifkind wants to know how legislation would enhance the "credibility" of the proposals. Here, the PM does expand his argument. Cameron: "Once you start writing a piece of legislation that backs up an independent regulator, you have to write into that legislation what is its composition, its powers, its makeup, and then you find you have a piece of law that is a piece of press regulatory law."
15:27 – Sir Peter Tapsell, the father of the House and one of the grandest of Tory grandees, is worried about newspaper proprietors – sometimes "bad men and even foreigners". That gets a laugh or two in the office.
15:26 – "We must act," Miliband finishes, to big cheers from the Labour benches. Now Cameron begins responding. He's especially nervous about changes to data protection laws – "we don't want to put something forward that wrecks investigative journalism". On statutory regulation, he says: "We don't have to wait to implement this report until those recommendations are had." He calls on the press to solve the problem by putting in place the independent regulation. "They could start that right now.
15:20 – Labour has just emailed the text of Miliband's statement through, so I am able to tell you what he's about to say as well as what he's said. He'll conclude: "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make change the public can trust. There can be no more last chance saloons."
15:19 – Cameron is sitting there frowning, seriously concentrating on what Miliband has to say. These cross-party talks are beginning right now, not after the end of this statement. Statute is important, Miliband says, because it provides a "crucial new guarantee that we've never had before".
15:16 – Next it's time for Ed Miliband to respond. "In the days and weeks ahead I will be seeking to persuade him… that we should put our faith in the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson." His aim is to "convince" Cameron – "we should put our trust in Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations".
15:13 – Wait – he's now going backwards! Cameron is not so sure about legislating to achieve Leveson's recommendations, he says. Parliament should "think very carefully" before undermining free speech, he warns. His concern is the proposals might provide a "vehicle for politicians" in the future to impose regulations on the press. He doesn't think legislation is needed to get to where Leveson wants to get to. Wouldn't a judge know better than a politician? He says cross-party talks are going to begin immediately.
15:11 – Now Cameron is moving on to the important bit – the relationship between the press and the public. After summing up Leveson's findings, he says: "In a free society… there should be a proper regulatory system as well." Is he saying what I think he is? He agrees with Leveson on the Press Complaints Commission's hopelessness. He agrees with Leveson that the newspapers' proposals "don't go far enough". Here's the big reveal… "These are the Leveson principles… if they can be put in place we truly will have a regulatory system that delivers public confidence, justice for the victims and a step change in the way the press is regulated in this country… the onus should now be on the press to implement them." That's it: the PM has come out in favour of Leveson's regulatory body.
15:08 – Sorry, slight technical problems here. So far in his statement Cameron has revelled in all the bits of the inquiry that have exonerated the Conservative party from damage. Including the claim that Cameron appointed Jeremy Hunt to the News International BSkyB takeover bid to fix the outcome. Lots of grateful hear-hears from Tory MPs.
15:03 – The structure of Cameron's statement puts off the most exciting bit until last. He's beginning with the press and the police. This bit's relatively easy for the prime minister – is he going to rubber-stamp it all?
15:01 – Time to hear from the prime minister, now, as David Cameron outlines his response to Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations.
Leveson: The reaction begins
14:42 – Not long to go until our focus switches to the Commons chamber – extremely exciting stuff – so I'm going to take a brief pause before then, scrambling to get a podcast published and ready for you. In the meantime, here's our news story. Leveson lights the fuse: We need a media law
14:31 – "The consensus is we welcome the contents of the report," the Hacked Off campaign's lawyer David Sherborne says outside the QE2. "The Hunt-Black proposal supported by the majority of the print media has been demonstrated to be utterly unworkable," he adds. It should be consigned to being "a footnote in history, which is where it belongs". It might not be as easy as that…
14:25 – The reaction appears to be broadly positive. Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty is positively brimming over with enthusiasm. Unlock Democracy's Peter Facey says the idea of enshrining the freedom of the press in law is broadly welcomed. But there are some dissenters. The TaxPayers' Alliance, for example, has this to say:
We fail to see how the new self-regulatory body envisaged by Lord Leveson can be truly independent: it will owe its existence to politicians in parliament – the very people whom the press rightly spend a good deal of their time holding to account. The actions that led to the Leveson Inquiry such as phone-hacking were all already illegal. With the government now so publicly unable to agree on how to respond to the report's proposals, taxpayers won’t help wondering what was the point of the multi-million pound Inquiry in the first place.
14:16 – All the attention is now turning to the political reaction to Leveson's proposals. "It is a fascinating and unique moment, politically," Prof Steve Barnett told me before the report's publication. "Both Ed Miliand and Nick Clegg have said effectively the same thing: if it's proportionate and reasonable, we will do it. The prime minister has said if it's not bonkers we'll do it." The question then becomes how the prime minister's going to respond. "Is it judged to be disproportionate or unreasonable? Or is it difficult to object to these? On that basis, it is hard to see either Ed Miliband or Nick Clegg doing anything other than backing those proposals. That will put the prime minister in a very difficult position. Either he has to go with his coalition partners – in line with public opinion – or he goes with his own right-wingers, people like Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, and with the great majority of the national press. If he goes with the other party, he will effectively be taking on what we know is still a evry powerful and difficult enemy to have, which is essneitlaily the British tabloid press."
14:10 – Lord Hunt of Wirral, the chair of the Press Complaints Commission, says it's time to make a "fresh start with a new body". "I did sense that Brian Leveson wants the press to get on with it." He hopes the press will "seize the baton".
14:05 – So, with that, Lord Justice Leveson vanishes in a puff of smoke, never to be seen again in public life. Or that seems to be his intention, anyway. For those still struggling to get their heads around those 2,000 pages you could try the executive summary. But even that's monstrously complex. Much more straightforward is our handy little guide to the whole caboodle: Leveson report explained in five minutes.
14:00 – Now Brian Leveson is wrapping up. "I hope my recommendations will be treated in exactly the same cross-party spirit which led to the setting-up of the inquiry in the first place,. and will lead to a cross-party response." He says he's not going to make any further comments – and with that, the press conference ends. It's reaction time!
13:58 – Leveson says "democratically accountable" ministers are the right people to make decisions about media ownership. He's recommended changes to make this process much more transparent, however. He says the competition authorities should have a "full range of remedies" on offer to challenge plurality at any time.
13:56 – Now Leveson moves on to politcians, and says relations between the press and politicians are in "robust good health". Hurrah! is the general reaction here in the press gallery. However, he says they have been "too close" in general. His concern is "a particular kind of lobbying conducted out of the public eye" between politicians and those in the media who want to shape policies to their benefit. "This undermines public trust and confidence," he says. It's a longstanding issue, which Leveson says has only ever resulted in "opportunities being missed".
13:52 – So how would this work? The legislation wouldn't establish the body itself. No. It would
- enshrine a legal duty on the government to protect the freedom of the press
- provide an independent process to recognise the self-regulatory body
- provide new and tangible benefits for the press
He couldn't be clearer: this isn't statutory regulation.
13:50 – So, down to the nitty-gritty of the appointments panel. As we reported below, this can have one serving editor on it – but lots of other people who could be involved. He says it's not up to him to draw up a standards code, but suggests that a committee doing this work might include serving editors. "Guaranteed independence, long-term stability and genuine benefits for the industry cannot be realised without legislation," he continues. He attacks "misleading information" about this. "I am proposing it only for the narrow purpose of recognising a new, independent, self-regulatory system."
13:48 – Leveson says he received two separate submissions from within the press on Monday afternoon – as the report was being printed – revealing that they were prepared to accept self-regulation of the press in a serious sort of way. "Although this model is an improvement on the PCC, in my view it does – not – come – close – to delivering 'regulation that is itself genuinely free and independent, both of the industry it regulates and political control'." The main problem is having editors on the board. "It is still the industry marking its own homework," he explains. "The press needs to establish a new regulatory body which is truly independent of industry levers, and of government, and of politicians."
13:46 – "There must be change," he declares grimly. Exemplary damages should be available for all media torts, including breach of privacy, he says, but "law enforcement can never be the whole answer". The problem is that law-breaking is "typically hidden". Even if you could put a policeman in every newsroom, that's "no sort of answer", he says. Essentially, he's saying the press' privilieges – like the protection of its sources – mean it has a strange position. "What is needed, therefore, is a genuinely independent and effective self-regulation of standards."
13:42 – He continues his praise, and suggests journalists can be "irreverent, unruly and opinionated" and still be acting in the public interest. That will be a relief to the sketchwriters.
13:41 – Leveson distinguishes between the press and the "internet" and social media sites like "Twitter". A distinction I'll be exploring a bit more in my podcast.
13:40 – He begins by pointing out that this is the seventh time in the last 70 years that a major report has taken place. He says he's been watching the press for decades himself, and that he remains very keen on them. The press is "one of the true safeguards of our democracy". As a result, it holds "a privileged and powerful place in our society". But that power comes alongside responsibility. "Unfortunately, as the evidence has shown beyond doubt, on too many occasions… the code of conduct has simply been ignored. This has damaged the public interest, caused real hardship and on occasion wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people."
13:38 – Right. So that's the big news – a grand compromise sought by Leveson. He's now making a statement to journalists.
Leveson: Independent self-regulation with statutory underpinning
13:31 – Here's the top lines from Lord Justice Leveson's report into the culture, practice and ethics of the press. The news is that he's proposing independent self-regulation, but with a statutory underpinning in law to make sure that the regulator's decisions are binding.
Victims of poor standards in journalism in the future will have three options under the proposals out today.
Firstly, the courts. Same as before. Costly, expensive, not particularly quick at all.
Secondly, for minor issues, demanding redress from the publications. Each 'member organisation' of the regulatory body is expected to set up its own internal process.
Finally comes arbitration by the regulatory body itself. This is going to be quicker and cheaper than the courts. It's going to be "inquisitorial" in style.
Leveson suggests forcing publications to take part by making those who refuse to join pay the full costs of litigation even when they win. That also applies to the person making the complaint. If they choose to go via the courts rather than the regulatory body, they will have to pay up.
Ian Dunt, our editor and a bit of a civil liberties nut himself, sounds impressed. He has been reading the report carefully and says he "can't imagine anything you would do, once you're in the realm of having statutory legislation, that would make it more acceptable".
He adds: "He's tried to cover all the bases here, and if there's any middle road then he's found it."
It's still a system of self-regulation, because it's up to the press to create this body. But if they don't do it, then Ofcom becomes the backstop.
There's a few more points worth noting immediately:
Serving editors are going to be shut out of the process. The only influence they will have will be on the appointments panel to the regulatory body – and they'll only be allowed to have one serving editor on the panel, not a controlling interest.
The director of public prosecutions is already forming guidelines on the 'public interest' question – but it will be up to the new regulatory body to provide a clearer definition.
Journalists' working practices will have to change. They'll have to make a record of why they think a story is public interest as they work through its preparation. If they're really unsure, they'll have the option of going to the regulatory body's 'voluntary pre-publication service', which will advise the journalist and his/her publication on whether they're on to something or not.
Leveson is also offering journalists a conscience clause in their contracts and recommends the establishment of a whistleblower hotline.
13:20 – Right, the time for publication is very nearly upon us. As soon as it's released, I'll post a summary of its proposals here.
'The fever will rise': All the buildup
13:10 – I'll be bringing you, via my handy colleague Ian Dunt in the media lock-in, the most significant developments of the Leveson inquiry bang on the dot of half-past. So stick around for the top lines in just 20 minutes' time…
12:30 – Earlier this week I spoke to Professor Steve Barnett, one of Britain's leading thinkers on media issues, about the extent of the challenge posed by the Leveson inquiry. This was a fascinating interview with a man who has not only written and broadcast himself about journalism, but has also advised governments and various bodies, both here and abroad, for 25 years.
"I think it is potentially a transformative moment in British public life," he says, talking about Leveson. It doesn't just cover reform of press regulation, but also relationships between the police and the press, and politicians and the press too. There have been three commissions on the press since the war, and three big reports. Most recently, and most memorably, came the Calcutt report in 1990.
"I do think it's important to remember although that inquiry was not heard in public, there were some very thorough reports of what was said, including by people like Rupert Murdoch and Kelvin Mackenzie, apologising profusely for the abuses and excesses of the press in the previous few years. And giving cast-iron promises that this would never happen again."
Of course, they did happen. Here we are. Barnett says then, as before, those in government chose to let the powerful men of the media get away with it. "Our politicians over the last 60 years have consistently dodged the most difficult questions. They have deliberately either avoided the difficult questions, or they have sided with the major media proprietors, time after time," he says.
"If we don't do it this time, then quite frankly these guys will be untouchable. Because they will know how much they bully, lie, harass, break the law, intrude on people's private lives, they'll get away with it."
12:00 – Here's a few more perspectives on the fact we're getting two statements – Cameron and Clegg – this afternoon (the deputy prime minister is expected to speak after Cameron takes questions from MPs and will be up around 16:15 GMT). The first is from Labour backbencher Steve McCabe, who evidently hasn't quite got his head around the flexibilities of coalition politics. Then comes a backpedalling tweet from the BBC's political editor. And finally…
Wrong that Nick Clegg allowed to address Commons. Either he's Dep. PM or not. Should resign & speak from back benches like everyone else
— Steve McCabe (@steve_mccabe) November 29, 2012
Clegg will make separate statement on Leveson in Commons. Sources stress that he and PM agree on some aspects of government response
— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) November 29, 2012
Nick Clegg will give his own response to the Leveson Report; I guess that explains where the crayons have gone…
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) November 29, 2012
11:30 – A fantastically preposterous lobby briefing, that was. The only real line from it was that the prime minister's spokesperson can't even confirm whether David Cameron will actually be speaking on behalf of the government or not. "We're in a coalition government. We haven't had a coalition government for quite some time, and you can expect things to be done differently." Downing Street indicated that negotiations are going to be continuing right up to the wire. "It's a lengthy report, they're still working through it," the spokesperson added. "Meetings are ongoing. There's a lot to work through in a short period of time."
10:57 – I'm beetling off to this morning's lobby briefing later, and will bring you a full report afterwards. So forgive me for being awol for as long as my fellow journalists bombard the prime minister's spokesperson with questions. In the meantime, I leave you with a link to the government's position after the last major push against the press – the Calcutt report of 1990. The then home secretary, David Waddington, couldn't have been clearer:
This is positively the last chance for the industry to establish an effective non-statutory system of regulation, and I strongly hope that it will seize the opportunity that the committee has given it.
10:50 – In the Commons right now, leader of the House Andrew Lansley is fielding questions from MPs about Commons business. This is a weekly ritual in which his shadow, Angela Eagle, makes witty and irreverent jibes about the travails of the government. One of these travails mentioned were press reports of divisions within the government at Cabinet on Tuesday; but Lansley doesn't approve. "On today of all days," he says, Eagle should remember that "you shouldn't believe everything you read in the newspapers".
10:35 – If the coalition is divided on Lord Justice Leveson's findings, there is a simple get-out clause for David Cameron: putting the issue to a free vote. This means the issue doesn't become one of party discipline, but is instead a matter for MPs' consciences. A point being made very forcefully on Twitter right now:
I might be missing something, but why can't they free vote #leveson ? Jolly important, above party politics, etc etc.
— Philip Cowley (@philipjcowley) November 29, 2012
Can't think of a day when PM made one statement and Deputy made different one. Surely a free vote on #Leveson must follow.
— Harry Smith (@stvharry) November 28, 2012
— Paul Woolley (@PaulTWoolley) November 28, 2012
Tories and coalition both so divided over #leveson surely Cameron will be tempted to allow a free vote – but would that show leadership?
— glenoglazaSky (@glenoglazaSky) November 28, 2012
10:20 – We've just had confirmation that Nick Clegg WILL be making a separate statement to the prime minister. This is fairly staggering news, although it was half-expected. It means that the Lib Dems have a clearly different position from the Conservatives. It seems reasonable to infer that the Lib Dems are backing statutory regulation, while the Tories are opposing such a move. No guarantees, of course, but that is now the most likely possibility. It's at times like this that the novelty of coalition is reinforced to us all…
10:15 – Such are the size and scope of the Leveson inquiry that there are many, many people who will be affected by today's report. The victims, of course, are the focus of politicians; their reaction, probably via the Hacked Off campaign group, is going to be fascinating. Their views are important. But it's the political impact of Leveson's findings which makes this so important. The phone-hacking scandal is a multi-headed monster, as my list of the top ten political scandals of 2011 shows. Of course the primary impact is on the press, and we'll be finding out today whether statutory regulation is a real possibility for Britain's newspapers. But there are other spinoff scandals too. What Leveson has to say about the relationship between politicians and the journalists is going to be of real significance. And then there's the police, too: their handling of the phone-hacking case has been something of a sideshow, but is nevertheless of real importance.
10:05 – Our glorious editor Ian Dunt is in the lock-in, which starts about one hour from now. He'll be popping back here afterwards for a quick interview with me which will wrap up my podcast on press regulation, particularly with regard to internet journalism; that's a topic I've been talking about in recent days with Conservative MPs and media experts. More on that story later…
09:55 – Firstly, here's a roundup of the state of play right now. Somewhere in Westminster or thereabouts, Ed Miliband and co are poring (pouring?) over the 2,000 pages of the report… strike that, let's say 'skim-reading' – to get a sense of it before this afternoon. Downing Street received its six copies yesterday, so the government's had something of a head start on Labour. The difference being, of course, that they actually have to do something about it. That goes for Nick Clegg as well as David Cameron: the deputy prime minister is the subject of lots of speculation this morning, as it's thought he may decide to make his own statement on the issue if he decides to go against Cameron and those free-speech-lovin' Tories. Not that the PM's position is guaranteed, of course. He's got a tough choice to make, too. Lots of questions which will, hopefully, be answered by the end of the day.
09:45 – Good morning, everyone, and welcome to politics.co.uk's live coverage of what is set to be a flustered day in Westminster. 'The fever will rise' was the description used by one colleague of mine in the lobby in parliament this morning, predicting soaring political temperatures as everyone gets thoroughly worked up later on. Lord Justice Leveson's report is out at 13:30 GMT; then, just 90 minutes later, the prime minister will make a statement to the Commons giving a broad indication of the government's "direction of travel" to get the political reaction to his report. Journalists are excited. Politicians are excited. The public might be mildly interested, too.