Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
His Lordships recommendation is easier said than done; Britain has struggled to write a constitution and we currently enjoy a very complex, uncoded and confusing set of constitutional laws. In order to enshrine freedom of speech and the press, which Leveson recommends in his report, it would require an additional constitutional act.
Parliament, and governments, dislike adding more and more constitutional acts; in fact, since 2007, Parliament has even struggled to agree on creating a modern Bill of Rights (which would be the nearest thing to a UK Constitution). The Prime Minister would like one, however, his Deputy objects to it replacing the Human Rights Act.
And, for the record, writing a single constitutional document – to include articles dating back from the Magna Carta – would take time. Took the United States nearly 15 years to write, agree and ratify one. There is no question the document would have to go to a public referendum, too.
In conclusion, Leveson is right: we need to a UK First Amendment, but don’t bank on Parliament creating one.
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