Michael Gove mocks Leveson as Boris condemns regulation
Former journalists openly attack Lord Justice Leveson amid Tory concerns over press regulation
MICHAEL GOVE, the Education Secretary, openly mocked the Leveson Inquiry at an awards lunch yesterday as London Mayor Boris Johnson warned MPs not to think "for one moment" of regulating the press.
Gove, like Johnson, is a former journalist. The two men’s remarks come a week before Lord Justice Leveson presents the findings of his inquiry into press standards, which are expected to include a recommendation for some form of statutory regulation. As The Daily Telegraph reports, the two men’s comments reflect "growing concern among senior Conservatives" about the contents of the report.
The pair were speaking at the annual Spectator parliamentarian of the year awards, at which Johnson – a former Spectator editor - was named politician of the year.
Gove harked back to his bad-tempered appearance before the inquiry in May and suggested that Leveson was not fully committed to freedom of speech.
"It's... a pity that His Honour Brian Leveson cannot be here so he could receive the Bureau of Investigative Journalism award for commitment to truth-telling for his wonderful comments: 'I don't really need any lessons in freedom of speech, Mr Gove, really I don't'."
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism was behind the botched Newsnight report that linked Lord McAlpine to allegations of child abuse.
The Guardian says Gove's decision to mock Leveson yesterday "shows he is spoiling for a fight" with the judge.
Boris Johnson also waded in and was roundly applauded when he told the lunch: "MPs, ministers and all the rest of it – don't you for one moment think of regulating a press that has been free in this city for more than 300 years and whose very feral fearlessness and ferocity ensures that we have one of the cleanest systems of government anywhere in the world."
The two Tories’ comments came on the same day as the leaders of all three main parties pledged to respond quickly to the report's findings when they are revealed.
THE SPECTATOR AWARDS IN FULL:
1. Newcomer of the Year – Andrea Leadsom MP (Con)
2. Backbencher of the Year – Alistair Darling MP (Lab)
3. Campaigner of the Year – Andy Burnham MP (Lab)
4. Inquisitor of the Year – Margaret Hodge MP (Lab)
5. Speech of the Year – Charles Walker MP (Con) and Kevan Jones MP (Lab)
6. Resignation of the Year – Lord Hill of Oareford (Con)
7. Apology of the Year – Nick Clegg MP (Lib Dem)
8. Resurrection of the Year – Sir George Young MP (Con)
9. Minister to Watch – Elizabeth Truss MP (Con)
10. Double Act of the Year – Edward Davey MP (Lib Dem) and John Hayes MP (Con)
11. Peer of the Year – Rt Rev Justin Welby
12. Minister of the Year – Theresa May MP (Con)
13. Parliamentarian of the Year – Jesse Norman MP (Con)
14. Politician of the Year – Boris Johnson (Con)