Hacked off founder grilled by students

Brian Cathcart at Leeds Trinity's Journalism Week

Brian Cathcart at Leeds Trinity’s Journalism Week

by Kate Russell

Hacked Off founder Professor Brian Cathcart faced a tough audience at Leeds Trinity Univerisity this morning when he was grilled on his pro-Leveson stance.

Prof Cathcart spoke against certain press “lies” about the damage Leveson could do – the counter argument to yesterday’s impassioned speech from former News of the World editor Neil Wallis.
He said: “There are a great many lies being told about what Leveson recommends. Leveson’s recommendations are fair, balanced and generous to the press.What we want is better journalism and better protection for journalism.”

He spoke in particular about the recent concern over whistleblowing. He said that Leveson fully supports police whistleblowing and recommends a similar system for journalists in newsrooms.

In an interview before his public speech, he said: “The industry does not want to have that capacity. They are trying to prevent it. Editors do not want journalists to be able to complain about unethical practices. So who is against whistleblowing? The editors and proprietors.”

Asked about the changes proposed by police to the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which would make it easier to seize journalists’ notebooks and harder for them to protect their sources, he simply said: “Hacked Off is not in favour of constraining journalism.”
His considered, calm speech was met with a series of stiff challenges from the audience, the first a direct challenge taken from Mr Wallis’ speech about the “self-serving celebrities” backing Hacked Off.

Prof Cathcart replied: “Is Rupert Murdoch not a self-serving celebrity?”
Watch Prof Cathcart being interviewed by Kate Russell

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