Daily Mail in love with Human Rights Act

by | Nov 27, 2011

Back in 2007, Paul Dacre – editor of the Daily Mail – told a House of Lords Select Committee “in the editorial line and in terms of the leader column, we are consistently against the Human Rights Act.” I think we’ll all agree that Dacre has been true to his word – the paper’s opposition has been remorseless and unyielding ever since.

Apart, that is, from when it wants to bully the Leveson Inquiry – and those witnesses who suspect (quite rightly) that they will be hunted down for all eternity if they testify against the tabloid press. Then human rights – for newspapers, at least – are fine and dandy:

Associated Newspapers is seeking a judicial review of Lord Justice Leveson’s decision to allow witnesses including journalists to give anonymous evidence to his inquiry into media standards.

The Daily Mail publisher wants to reverse a decision Leveson made following approaches from a number of individuals who claimed they wanted to give evidence anonymously without fear of reprisal.

In a claim form issued to the high court, Associated cites four legal reasons to overturn the anonymity ruling.

The publisher said it “fails to give effect to the principle of open justice”; that it would “contravene the principles of natural justice”; and that it infringes the rights of the newspaper group and others under article 10 of the Human Rights Act, which gives the right to free expression. It also argues that Leveson fails to identify a public interest to justify his decision.

Good, also, to see the Mail’s owners ticking off Leveson for not acting in the public interest – which Dacre defines as the freedom for newspapers to “publish what they believe is best for their markets” and “the freedom to identify those who have offended public standards of decency… and hold the transgressors up to public condemnation.”

So let us all join in defending Dacre’s human right to pillory us miserable sinners. After all, it’s good for us and it sells newspapers.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

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