The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

My view is that what is flawed at the moment is that the instruments available to us are quite imprecise. They're poorly defined. They're subject to a huge amount of interpretation. Notably, in this case, the plurality test. If you read in the Enterprise Act how public interest and plurality are defined, you can run a coach and horses through it. And then, as we all know, there are various hoops you go through, the Secretary of State can then have quite a low threshold of evidence, if you like, refer the decision, and then makes a further decision on whether to refer it to the Competition Commission and so on and so forth.

My only view is where we should focus our efforts should be to make that a more rational, coherent and more tightly defined process, because that in itself then makes it much, much more difficult for politicians to infuse the process with their own prejudices. What I'm saying is that if you do manage to tighten it up, then it is nonetheless still appropriate to have a politician at the end of the day who's held to account for the final decision by that process.

You could do both, you could both tighten it up and remove politicians, but I personally don't believe that one can ever be so scientific about what plurality is that it is completely beyond debate or discretion. I don't think -- I think plurality can be much more tightly defined than it presently is but it's not a mathematical formula. If it was, you'd get a calculator to sort it out, but it's not. It will always have a degree, some degree, however small, or vanishingly small, of discretion.

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