Politicians won't regulate the press under Leveson's proposals but we have no idea who will, nor how they will force the press to change
Politicians won't decide what our newspapers are allowed to print if Lord Levenson's proposals ever are put into effect.
In fact, we have no idea who will actually decide. Nor do we know the criteria they will use to determine whether newspapers have misbehaved or not.
Some opponents of Leveson's ideas exaggerate the extent to which "politicians" will be empowered to influence the content of newspapers.
But I suspect supporters of his proposals are guilty of a little wishful thinking, as they assume that a new body will stamp out the behaviour they consider to be unethical. In fact, we have no way of knowing what it will do.
Let me explain why I say all this.
The key point in Lord Leveson's proposals is the creation of and "independent regulatory body, headed by an independent Board". He deals with this in his report in Part K, Chapter 7, paragraphs 4.1 to 4.48 (that's pages 1758 to 1769 in the document you can download here).
The members of the body would actually be the newspapers, but it's the Board that will have the power.
The Board will enforce a "standards code". The Board will deal with complaints that a newspaper has breached the code (either the Board as a whole or "a small complaints committee" set up by the Board).
It will also have the power to launch inquiries "into suspected serious or systemic breaches of the code and failures to comply with directions of the Board".
If the code has been broken, it will have the power to order the guilty newspaper to publish a correction and an apology - and "the power to direct the nature, extent and placement of apologies should lie with the Board". In other words, it can order the newspaper to print a large apology on the front page, if it wants.
If a newspaper breaks the code repeatedly - Lord Leveson says "found to be responsible for serious or systemic breaches of the standards code or governance requirements of the body" - then it can be ordered to pay a fine up to £1 million.
So surely there are two key questions here. Who sits on the Board, and what does the code say? We don't know the answer to either of those.
We do have some idea how the Board will be chosen, however.
There will be an appointment panel to choose the Board. But Lord Leveson goes back a stage and first of all tells us who will appoint the appointment panel, in Part K, Chapter 7, Para 4.7
Lord Leveson writes: "The selection of that panel must itself be conducted in an appropriately independent way and must, itself, be independent of the industry and of Government
"Without being prescriptive, it could include distinguished public servants with experience of senior independent appointments such as the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission."
So these distinguished public servants - we can only guess who exactly they will be, but senior civil servants and quango leaders by the sound of it - decide who should sit on an appointment panel. This appointment panel would then appoint a chairman of the Board as well as the Board itself.
Lord Leveson says the Board should not include any serving editors, MPs or members of the government. It should "comprise a majority of people who are independent of the press" and also "include a sufficient number of people with experience of the industry who may include former editors and senior or academic journalists."
So now we have a Board which enforces a Code. And the Board would also write the Code, although it would take the existing code of conduct (known as the Editors' Code) used by the Press Complaints Commission as its starting point.
Lord Leveson says the "current Code would benefit from a thorough review, with the aim of developing a clearer statement of the standards expected of editors and journalists".
He also says the Board could choose to take advice from "a Code Committee including serving editors and journalists, but with independent members as well". And he suggests there should also be a public consultation.
However, the code would be the ultimate responsibility of the Board.
So we don't know who would be enforcing press standards under the new regime. The only firm detail is that former journalists and academics might be involved, although it appears they would be a minority. All we know about the other members is that they would chosen by an appointment panel which, in turn, was chosen by senior quangocrats - sorry, distinguished public servants.
Neither do we know what standards they would be enforcing, other than that the existing code of conduct would provide some sort of starting point for the new one.
Is this a bad way of regulating the press? I don't share the concerns of many of my colleagues. I'm not against it.
But will it stop the things that campaigners are angry about? I haven't the foggiest and I'm not sure how anyone else can claim to know either.