MoS man notes Leveson Inquiry's 'worrying ignorance'

The Mail on Sunday‘s political editor Simon Walters believes he has been vindicated over his story claiming Lord Justice Leveson threatened to quit over remarks made by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

On Monday Leveson confirmed that he called Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Haywood in February after Gove told reporters his inquiry was having a ‘chilling effect’on free speech.

At no point during his statement did Leveson deny claims he had threatened to resign.

Commenting on Leveson’s ‘rambling statement’in a diary piece in today’s Spectator, Walters said: ‘Yes, he called the Cabinet Secretary; yes, he expressed concern about Gove’s remarks; yes, he said the inquiry would be pointless if that were the government’s view.

‘He does not say: ‘I threatened to quit.’ But judges don’t speak like that, newspapers do, and are entitled to when borne out by the facts.

‘More importantly, No. 10 was convinced of it. My old Mail on Sunday boss Peter Dobbie used to say: ‘Never raise your arm in victory.’ So I resist the temptation.”

Walters said his ‘interrogation’ended with ‘further evidence of the inquiry’s worrying ignorance of Fleet Street”:

‘Leveson asks how headlines are written, seemingly unaware they are composed by sub-editors, not reporters.

‘All Mail on Sunday headlines are composed with very great skill and care, I say.”

Walters also revealed that before his appearance he sat in the inquiry room alongside Channel 4’s Jon Snow, who later went on to launch a stinging attack on Associated Newspapers.

‘We talk about how Channel 4 and the Mail on Sunday led the field in 2005 in breaking the story of the Attorney General’s legal advice on the Iraq war,’said Walter.

‘Yet when Snow takes the stand, he launches into an attack on Associated Newspapers. ‘A powerful contribution,’ says Lord Justice Leveson, approvingly, as Snow makes way for me.”

Five years ago the Mail on Sunday published a story, which it later admitted to be false, in which it accused Snow of having an affair with a writer and smoking cannabis with her.

Snow said the paper’s apology had been a “pathetic” column on page two, before adding: “There is something more insidious about Associated Newspapers and very possibly they will go after me for saying so,” he said, claiming that coverage could be “pernicious and at times mendacious”.

Insiders at Associated were taken by surprise when Snow attacked the papers in his testimony, as he did not do so in his written witness statement.

Snow declined to elaborate on his testimony afterwards or provide specific examples.

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