London: Riveting to some, but irrelevant to others, a public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press and cosy relations between it and the political class is now in a key phase, with implications for democracy and journalism.
Set up in July 2011 in the wake of phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch`s News of the World, the Leveson Inquiry is broadcast live and attracts an influential and international audience, gripped by the rigours of the British justice system and insights presented by key stakeholders across the press, police and politics.
The inquiry follows the controversy involving News of the World and other newspapers published by News International whose parent company, News Corp, is headed by the world`s biggest media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Employees of the newspaper are accused of phone-hacking, police bribery and exercising improper influence in pursuit of scoops.
The inquiry by Lord Justice Leveson into phone-hacking by the News of the World was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron last year.
Cameron told the inquiry that the relationship between the British politicians and the press had gone wrong in the last two decades and needs to be reset. He also wanted press regulation to be improved.
Asked about the issues thrown up by the revelations, industrialist Lord Swraj Paul said that the real issue was the cosy relationship between business and politics "which seems to be seeping into Britain."
He recalled that he had exposed a similar cosy relationship during the early 1980s in India when he had tried to takeover publicly quoted companies, a bid in which he was thwarted following intervention by some politicians. He saw a lot of similarities between those events and some of the things happening in Britain.
"It is a bit sad that Prime Minister Cameron has had to deny twice that he had no deal because nobody had accused him of that," Paul said.
"The revelations so far have shown many warts in our public life. It is time for introspection to ensure that in Britain we retain the values it was known for," Paul said.