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Apologies made at the Leveson Inquiry: Triggers and responses

Murphy, James



Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen

Rosina Márquez Reiter


This paper discusses apologies made by politicians at a recent UK public inquiry, the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press. I use the freely available data from the Inquiry to explore how politicians apologise in this interactional setting, contrasting it with more usual monologic political apologies. Firstly, I identify the sorts of actions which may be seen as apologisable. I then take a conversation analytic (CA) approach to explore how the apologies can come as a result of an overt complaint and how the apologies are reacted to by counsel and the Inquiry chair. I show that, unlike in everyday conversation, apologies are not the first pair parts of adjacency pairs (cf. Robinson 2004), but rather form action chains (Pomerantz 1978) where the absence of a response is unmarked. I conclude with some observations on how apology tokens may be losing their apologetic meaning.

Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 91-113
Book Title The Pragmatics of Sensitive Activities in Institutional Discourse
ISBN 9789027263674
APA6 Citation Murphy, J. (2018). Apologies made at the Leveson Inquiry: Triggers and responses. In M. M. Hansen, & R. Márquez Reiter (Eds.), The Pragmatics of Sensitive Activities in Institutional Discourse, 91-113. John Benjamins.
Keywords courtroom discourse, political language, public inquiries, apologies, remedial work, conversation analysis, action chains, Leveson Inquiry
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author's accepted manuscript. Here is a link to the published book:


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