The actor and comedian Steve Coogan has defended the Leveson inquiry against claims that is being “hijacked” by celebrities hungry for publicity.
Coogan, who gave evidence to Lord Justice Leveson’s examination of press ethics this week, said that “the McCann evidence alone was vindication of the inquiry” and repeated his call for tougher controls on British newspapers.
“The fact is that the Leveson inquiry has acted in the same way as genuine public interest journalism,” he said on Radio 4′s Today programme on Saturday. “It has shone a light on something which has hitherto gone unreported.”
His comments come as Graham Foulkes, who lost his son in the 7/7 London bombings and allegedly became a victim of phone-hacking, reportedly refused to give evidence.
Foulkes told the Times: “I think the inquiry is a good thing for those ordinary members of the public whose lives have been touched by tragedy and intruded upon in a such a dreadful way by one organisation.
“But what does concern me is that celebrities choose to employ people like [the publicist] Max Clifford, who’s a multi-millionaire out of celebrity and the media.
“And just because the media is under the spotlight at the moment, one or two so-called celebrities seem to me to have jumped on the bandwagon and they’ve hijacked the inquiry for their own purposes,” he said.
But Coogan said he was purely speaking out on behalf of ordinary people who had suffered from press intrusion.
“We’re here because we’re the mouthpiece,” he said. “We don’t have the newspapers to advance our argument like the press do.”
The Alan Partridge star, who said he was the victim of a “sociopathic sting” by then News of the World editor Andy Coulson, joined the McCann family and actor Hugh Grant this week in calling for tougher press regulation and tighter controls on British tabloids.
While Jenkins, a former Fleet Street editor, said the media “had policed the media” in the case of phone hacking, Coogan noted the failure of self-regulation and said the press response to the inquiry was “risible”.
“Self regulation hasn’t worked. It demonstrably hasn’t worked. Having the same people who sit on these committees as that are on these newspapers doesn’t fill anyone will confidence. It doesn’t look credible” said Coogan.
The inquiry resumes on Monday when those giving evidence will include the singer Charlotte Church.
- Steve Coogan: Leveson inquiry not being ‘distorted by celebrities’ (guardian.co.uk)
- AUDIO: Coogan on Leveson’s ‘watershed week’ (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Steve Coogan to Leveson Inquiry: Ex-NOTW Editor Andy Coulson Tried to Sting Me (ibtimes.com)
- Leveson Inquiry: Graham Foulkes, father of 7/7 victim, says it has been “hijacked” by celebrities (telegraph.co.uk)
- Leveson inquiry: Coogan claims Andy Coulson set him up in ‘sting’ Actor says former News of the World editor published details about affair despite assurances from showbiz columnist (ikners.com)
- Leveson Inquiry: ‘I saw reporters rifling through my bins,’ Steve Coogan claims (telegraph.co.uk)
- Leveson Inquiry: Steve Coogan gives evidence – BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
- Leveson inquiry: Steve Coogan gives evidence on phone hacking – live (guardian.co.uk)
- Media Talk podcast: The McCanns and the Dowlers give evidence to Leveson (guardian.co.uk)
- McCanns arrive at Leveson Inquiry (mirror.co.uk)