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Leveson report into UK press standards to be published this afternoon

The report from the first part of the inquiry will be available from 1.30pm

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi Deng arrive at the High Court in London to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking, Thursday, April 26, 2012.
News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi Deng arrive at the High Court in London to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking, Thursday, April 26, 2012.
Image: Sang Tan/AP/Press Association Images

AN INITIAL REPORT on the culture, practices and ethics of the UK media is to be published by Lord Justice Leveson this afternoon.

The first part of the inquiry, which today’s report deals with, examined the relationship the press holds with the public, police and politicians.

The document will be made available from 1.30pm and Justice Leveson will make a brief on camera statement. However, he will not be taking questions from reporters.

It is understood that Leveson has included recommendations for the future regulation of the media. He is expected to recommend either scrapping or radically reforming the Press Complaints Commission, the self-regulatory body whose failure to handle the hacking scandal was widely criticised.

The recommendations come as Westminster and the media are locked in a fierce battle over the best action plan – whether there should be statutory regulation or a better and stronger model of self-regulation.

Prime Minister David Cameron has implied that he will accept any recommendations that are not “bonkers”.

When the hearings began in November 2011, Leveson said he hoped to have the first party of the inquiry wrapped up by the end of 2012.

At the opening hearing on 14 November 2011, Leveson said: “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”

Over the past year, evidence has been heard from a wide range of witnesses – a total of 184 – including celebrities, police officers, politicians, reporters and newspaper editors.

Justice Leveson has also accepted 42 written submissions.

The inquiry was set up by Cameron following the public outrage over revelations that the News of the World had hacked into the phone of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002. Throughout the year-long inquiry, there has been demonstrable evidence that phone hacking was a wider-used practice and not limited to isolated incidents such as the Dowler case ten years ago.

Two polls have been carried out in recent days to see what the public would like to see happen in relation to press regulation. Both showed support for independent regulation backed by law, according to the Guardian.

The second part of the inquiry, which will look at the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, will begin when the police investigation into alleged phone-hacking and corrupt payments to police is completed.

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