Leveson and the Use of English
As a denizen of the Ethical Vacuum,* I hasten to correct an error I made in my column in The Independent on Sunday yesterday. I said that, under Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals,
Ed Richards, who once worked for Gordon Brown, and who was appointed head of Ofcom by the Government, would decide who regulates the press.
I had confused the chairman of Ofcom, Colette Bowe, with its chief executive, Ed Richards (pictured), whom I remember from his time as a parliamentary assistant to the shadow chancellor.
I had not been listening closely enough to the Prime Minister in the Commons on Thursday. He said:
Of course, the chair of Ofcom is appointed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
It turns out that, formally, the chief executive of Ofcom is appointed differently, according to the Office of Communications Act 2002:
The chief executive shall be appointed by the chairman and other non-executive members of OFCOM with the approval of the Secretary of State.
I nevertheless think that, if the Secretary of State has to approve the appointment, that is the power of appointment even if it is not exercised nakedly in practice.
In fact, it is similar to LJ Leveson’s proposal for a self-regulatory body that has to be “verified” by Ofcom: that does not look like statutory regulation and it is designed not to do so, but if Ofcom has the power to approve or disapprove the regulatory body, it has the power of regulation.
*A phrase LJ Leveson uses twice in Vol 2, including here:leveson
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