Brian Leveson on Rebekah Brooks' News UK return: 'Tell me about it'

Brian Leveson has defended his inquiry into the press, telling an interviewer: "I just did what I was supposed to do."

Journalist Sandy Rashty described Leveson (pictured, Reuters) as "anxious" during at 90-minute interview "punctured with hesitation, caution and a three-minute break while he reconsiders whether he should have agreed to the interview in the first place".

In the write-up, Rashty describes the journalism industry as being still "wounded" by the inquiry and cited "Leveson’s Illiberal Legacy" report, published last month, which condemned his regulation recommendations.

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Asked about the repercussions of his report, Leveson said: "What you are doing is persuading me that I should have never given this interview. I do not want to increase my profile."

When Rashty persisted, he said: “I simply cannot talk about regulation of the press because, if I do, I dump myself into the middle of a political debate which is going on to this day…

"There is supposed to be a second limb to the Inquiry which can only start when all the criminal cases have been concluded. [The report] could not go into who did what to whom because there were all sorts of prosecutions pending.”

Rashty's write up then says: "You mean people like Rebekah Brooks (the former editor of the Sun and News of the World), I ask? What, I wonder, does he think of her resurrection as chief executive of News UK, the company she left in controversial circumstances, a company that was found to have used widespread phone-hacking — a practice which she was cleared in court of ever sanctioning or knowing about."

Leveson responded: ‘‘Tell me about it."

Rashty said these "muttered words" were "seemingly laced with sarcasm".

He added: “I know it has been three years since my findings were published but journalists are still being investigated. It is up to the government now. There will come a time when someone has to decide what will happen with the second limb of the Inquiry.

“I’ve done a report, it’s there. What has happened since its publication is for others to determine — not for me. It’s inappropriate for me as a serving judge to get involved in those kinds of discussions. I have to be very careful, because the one thing I cannot talk about is politics. I will not talk about issues of policies and law which might come up to me for decision, because if I did comment, someone would say to me: ‘Well you have got a pre-judged view’. There is a risk that by expressing a view on policy, judges disqualify themselves from a later challenge to that policy.”

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