Coogan: Regulator 'a busted flush'
8:06pm Wednesday 26th March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
The new press regulatory board being established by the industry is a "busted flush", comedian and actor Steve Coogan has claimed.
The Alan Partridge star, who has played a leading role in the Hacked Off campaign, said the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) did not comply with the recommendations set out in the Leveson report and was effectively the old Press Complaints Commission "all over again".
Coogan praised Labour leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg for standing by the Leveson proposals, but it "remains to be seen" whether David Cameron would be able to look the victims of press intrusion in the eye.
In an interview with Total Politics he said: "To most people Ipso is a busted flush. The misrepresentation of Leveson's core findings as state regulation was a gross distortion."
Ipso is being established as an alternative to the cross-party Royal Charter system of press regulation which many in the industry oppose over fears it could lead to political interference.
But Coogan said: "The Royal Charter declares that we believe in a free press as a core tenet of democracy, we want to enable public interest journalism and if people joined a Leveson-compliant body it actually protects them against lawsuits, it's a body which genuinely protects public interest journalism and the rights of people to have some redress people who have been abused."
He said implementing the Leveson report's recommendations was an "ongoing process, however much some people try to caricature it as being over and done with".
Coogan said the political response to the Leveson Inquiry's findings had been a "mixed bag".
He said: "I think Ed Miliband deserves praise for standing up to those who would want to caricature Leveson's findings, for standing up to the way that some members of the press have framed the debate in ways that reflect their own interests, as should Nick Clegg.
"I think they have shown some backbone in standing by the main findings of Leveson. Politicians who haven't been vociferously supporting the findings of a judge appointed by the Prime Minister in a very through public inquiry, I think even those who aren't vociferous, it's not because they don't believe it it's because they are nervous about being re-elected."
Although he reserved judgment on Mr Cameron's performance on the issue, Coogan was scathing about Culture Secretary Maria Miller: "She's a fair-weather politician. I think she sticks her finger up in the morning and sees which way the wind is blowing and that determines her views and principle."
Coogan also gave his verdict on other politicians, describing Ukip leader Nigel Farage as "entertaining", even though he disagreed with his politics.
"Of course I find almost all his views objectionable," Coogan said. "But yes, you can think that at a Christmas party he might be an avuncular presence. Entertaining. And I think that's possibly part of their success.
"I mean I might have broad political sympathies with Tony Blair, but I'm not sure I'd want him at my Christmas party."
Chancellor George Osborne, meanwhile, was "the sort of person that as a schoolboy I used to snigger at on the bus".