I think two things here. One, if you are a journalist, you are exposed to other people's journalism across the world and I don't think that there is -- on this scale, I don't think we have this manifest in any other system. People point to Bild in Germany, with is a tabloid, but frankly it is mild by comparison with what goes on here. France, of course, there are none, but that is partly because there is a Privacy Act. United States, the National Inquirer is sold in a different part of the shop. I mean, it is not seen as true. I mean, it is good fun, but -- you know, it is crazy.
Here, it is part of the newspaper. This is news. It is on the same scale as the liberation of Tahrir Square and the arrival of a Muslim brotherhood president and all the rest of it. That gets the same treatment as Mr and Mrs or Ms X and their private life, and so it becomes a very big and destructive thing.
I believe one of the problems about the environment in which this inquiry is set is that there has been enormous emphasis on the Murdoch papers, on News International, and possibly not enough on other areas of the press. I would say that Associated Newspapers are at least, if not more pernicious than anything you see in the News International stable. They are vying with each other, perhaps, but there is something more insidious about Associated Newspapers and very possibly they will go after me for saying so. But I believe they have an agenda for trying to undermine or wreck the careers of individual people in public life, and I think that is unhealthy. I think people should stand or fall by what they achieve or fail to achieve in the job they are employed to do. It is of no interest that they have -- unless it is in some way in conflict with their actual responsibility. But if it was found that the a Archbishop of Canterbury was -- and God rest our souls that he would never be found here, but just supposing he was frequenting Soho or something. That would obviously have some clear public interest.
But I'm afraid to say this goes way beyond anything like that, where people who have a quite modest, perhaps, role in public life are undermined. It is part of the fare, it is part of the staple diet, and I don't think it is a diet actually that people really need even.
It is not a question of suppressing press freedom; it's just: why don't we deal with the important things in life? And, you know, it is not -- it is, as I say, pernicious and I think at times mendacious. I don't -- I try to analyse it a lot. I try to see what it is that makes this worthwhile. Where does it come from? What role does the editor at Associated Newspapers have in this? You have heard the atmosphere there can be quite difficult and I know -- and it is something I really want to say to you, is that Fleet Street, as we still call it, even though it is nowhere near Fleet Street, is populated by really decent, good, wonderful journalists. No question. Every single paper I have ever had any contact with on Fleet Street has superb people working for it. But somehow this culture sweeps through and is allowed to prevail, irrespective of the quality of the people who try to work there. And it doesn't happen in broadcasting, and it is not just because we are regulated. It is because we don't see it as any part of our news function.
For example, in the chitty chatty days before Diana's demise, we took it as sort of almost self-denying ordnance. We said, "Look, who she is dating, what she is doing is not really our business. If some news development occurs, there is some mêlée or something and she is in danger, then we will report it, but fundamentally her private life is not an issue for this programme."
Then, of course, she died, and she became a massive interest and we had to talk about people we had never talked about before, somebody called Dodi Al Fayed, et cetera. These people had to be resurrected.
But in my view, this is the great need, is for this area either to be divorced from our understanding of news and placed somewhere else, maybe in a brown paper bag under the shelf, but for it to appear as being mainstream news is incredibly destructive. I think people get a distorted a view of the world in which we all function.
After all, Britain is made up mainly by people who live by the law, do their best -- politicians, workers, people in the health service. These are the people who make this country work and simply demonising them, exposing them for some human frailty, is, I think, very destructive.