Over the last few weeks celebrities and well known figures of every political hue – from Hugh Grant to Alaistair Campbell have been giving evidence to the Leveson enquiry on phone hacking and standards in journalism.
Memorably, Alastair Campbell told the enquiry how he believed that a story about Cherie Blair’s pregnancy published by the Daily Mirror could have been obtained by phone hacking and that he believed the press was “frankly putrid in many of its elements”.
While many may have sympathy with Mr Campbell’s views – and with celebrities such as Sienna Miller whose phone was reportedly hacked – we may also remember that it was the former (when in Downing Street) who used the media to ‘spin’ New Labour’s messages. And celebrities continue to use the media to leak news of their new film, book, video, TV show or divorce.
Clearly times have changed. Yet it will probably not be the celebrities or the spin doctors – despite their righteous indignation – who force a lasting change in our privacy laws.
It will be the ‘ordinary’ people like the Dowler family or Chris Jefferies (Jo Yeates’ Bristol landlord) whose lives were adversely affected forever by the actions of the media, who will finally bring about a sea-change in our laws.
The public revulsion at their treatment by a small section of the media promises to have a much greater result than the complaints of the well-known.
Time will tell.