Emma Lewell-Buck MP: Honour the victims and families of phone hacking

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The Leveson Inquiry has been a focus of debate over the last few weeks as the Tories have broken their promises to victims and families by not allowing the second part of the inquiry to take place.

Let’s not forget the significance and meaning of the Leveson inquiry, especially to victims and their families.

The methods that were employed by reporters were inexcusable.

Hacking the phones and listening to personal messages of victims of 7/7, the families of deceased British veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the most notorious case where the News of the World accessed messages from murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s phone when she was dead leading her family to believe she was still alive.

This was a disgusting breach of privacy and should never be forgotten.

We need to learn lessons from these cases, and if the second part of Leveson is not conducted, we will not be able to make the changes needed to ensure this will not happen again.

The second part of the Leveson inquiry was due to consider the extent of improper conduct and governance failings by individual newspaper groups, how these were investigated by the police and whether police officers received payments or inducements.

In the Milly Dowler case, it seems the police were aware of the phone-hacking of journalists and a senior Surrey Police officer invited News of the World staff to a meeting to discuss the case.

Clearly, the dynamics between the media and the police need analysing.

Hoping that the public will have forgotten about the whole saga, earlier this year the culture secretary Matt Hancock announced that the government would not be implementing the second stage of the inquiry.

I, along with Labour colleagues, voted last week and again this week to commit the government to Leveson 2, last week after promising Northern Ireland a Leveson style inquiry, thanks to DUP votes Labours efforts failed.

Once again the DUP’s votes are aiding the Tories in making detrimental decisions that affect everywhere but Northern Ireland.

This week the Lords voted against Theresa May and her government in support of Labour’s stance but sadly when the matter returned to the Commons the Tories again won the vote by a small majority, just 12 votes.

Anyone who has been the victim of press intrusion, dishonest headlines and false accusations will know that for too long in our country some have been able to act as they wish without impunity.

The only real recourse for victims is to pursue costly and lengthy litigation, costs of which are astronomical and only an option for the very wealthy.

This isn’t what justice looks like. But it is what a country governed by the Tories and their powerful friends in the press looks like.

This week the Tories had an opportunity to honour the promises made to the victims and their families and to make sure justice was served.

I was proud to vote for a commitment to the full Leveson inquiry, not just for past victims, but for the sake of preventing future victims.