Leveson findings – expert panel appointed

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A five-person panel has been appointed to consider the recommendations of the Leveson Report in Scotland.

The expert group, to be chaired by former Solicitor General and Senator of the College of Justice Lord McCluskey, features Scots legal experts and representatives of journalism and those affected by malpractice:

  • Lord McCluskey of Church Hill LLD, former Solicitor General for Scotland and Senator of the College of Justice (chair)
  • David Sinclair, Director of Communications at Victim Support Scotland, former President of the National Union of Journalists and former assistant editor of The Herald
  • Professor Neil Walker FBA, FRSE, Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh
  • Peter Watson, Senior Partner of Levy & McRae and Visiting Professor at the School of Law, University of Strathclyde
  • Ruth Wishart, independent media production professional, former assistant editor of the Sunday Mail, Scotsman and Sunday Standard

The panel is tasked with considering the findings and certain recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson – particularly how statutory underpinning of a new independent system of self-regulation of the press could work in Scotland.  The terms of reference are set out below.

Panel members are invited to provide advice and recommendations to the Scottish Government within three months.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“Press regulation is a devolved responsibility, there have been victims of press malpractice in Scotland and Scotland has its own unique legal system.

“It is therefore unarguable that we in Scotland need to make our own response to the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson in his report – particularly on the proposal for statutory underpinning in Scots law of a new, independent self-regulation system for the press.

“This expert panel will offer advice on the most appropriate way to approach such statutory underpinning in Scotland, bearing in mind our legal system, developments elsewhere in the United Kingdom and experience internationally.  What happens thereafter will be a matter for the Parliament.”  
Stressing the range of expertise within the panel, Mr Salmond added:

“What is critically important is that this panel is representative of the broad spectrum of interests that need to be taken into account.

“It is a balanced panel that features experts in Scots law, respected journalists, legal practitioners and someone with a background in supporting those affected by crime and malpractice. This group of experts is independent and non-political and is chaired by a former Court of Session judge.

“I am grateful to each of them for bringing their knowledge, expertise and commitment to this issue and look forward to receiving their recommendations.”

Background
The terms of reference of the expert group are as follows:

To consider the findings and recommendations made in the Part 1 of the Report of the Leveson Inquiry in respect of Press Regulation, and, accepting the main principles on which those recommendations are made, including in particular the need for statutory underpinning of a newly created, genuinely independent and effective system of Self-Regulation, to offer advice and recommendations as to the most appropriate means of achieving such statutory underpinning in Scotland, in the context of —

  • the Scottish legal system;
  • any other existing provisions in law that relate to publication by the Press in the UK;
  • any developments in Press Regulation elsewhere in the United Kingdom arising out of the Leveson Inquiry;
  • experience in regulation of the press outside of the United Kingdom, that might inform consideration of the recommendations made and the mechanisms suggested in the Part 1 Report of the Leveson Inquiry,

and to provide such advice and recommendations to the Scottish Government within 3 months.

Lord McCluskey (Chair)

John Herbert McCluskey, Baron McCluskey was Solicitor General for Scotland from 1974 to 1979. During this period he worked on the then Labour government’s proposals for devolution. Lord McCluskey became a member of the Judiciary in 1984 and presided for 16 years as a High Court judge over some of the country’s most famous criminal cases. He retired in 2000.  In 2011 he chaired the Independent Review Group examining the relationship of the High Court of Justiciary and the United Kingdom Supreme Court, whose recommendations were accepted both by the Scottish Parliament and the UK Government.  Lord McCluskey was for many years chair of the judges for the Bank of Scotland Press Awards and also Vice President of the West of Scotland Press Fund (the Journalists’ Charity).

David Sinclair

David Sinclair has been head of Communications at Victims Support Scotland since 2006, he is a former assistant editor of The Herald, having worked there from 1975 – 2006 and was President of the National Union of Journalists in 1990-91.

Professor Neil Walker

Neil Walker – LLB, PhD, LLD (Honoris Causa) (Uppsala), FBA, FRSE – is Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh His main area of expertise is constitutional theory. He has published extensively on the constitutional dimension of legal order at sub-state, state, supranational and international levels. Previously he taught public law at Edinburgh for ten years (1986-96), was Professor of Legal and Constitutional Theory at the University of Aberdeen (1996-2000), and, most recently, was Professor of European Law at the European University Institute in Florence (2000-8), where he was also the first Dean of Studies (2002-5). In December 2008 Professor Walker was asked by the Scottish Government to conduct an independent review of final appellate jurisdiction in the Scottish legal system.

Peter Watson

Peter is Senior Partner and Head of Litigation at Levy & McRae.  Under his leadership, Levy & McRae has built up a worldwide reputation in areas of expertise such as media law, licensing, aviation, international claims, public inquiries, employment law and tax and revenue investigations.  He is also a part-time Sheriff and Visiting Professor at the School of Law, University of Strathclyde, and is a former President of the Society of Media Lawyers, Chairman of the Association of Mediators and a Member of the Criminal Rules Council.

Ruth Wishart

Ruth Wishart is a journalist and broadcaster with extensive experience of the Scottish media. She has been  a columnist with the Daily Record, columnist and Assistant Editor of the Sunday Mail, columnist and Assistant Editor of the Sunday Standard, and  Senior Assistant Editor of the Scotsman. Currently she writes a column for Herald Society, and contributes regularly to The Scotsman. She has also presented radio series for Radio Scotland and Radio 4. With Deborah Orr and Paul Flynn she recently interviewed a range of journalists, the transcripts of which were used for Enquirer, the National Theatre of Scotland’s response to the issues covered in the Leveson Inquiry.