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

Good, okay. I would make two general comments: that ideally the new beefed-up system should be run by the press for the press. There are various ways in which we could try to ensure that it is not run by a small band of newspaper editors. I talked about getting working journalists involved on the board, and I think there are models from other countries like Ireland which I think we would do well to look at.

And I think the more -- I completely agree with George. The more we can encourage that body to impose its will and get newspapers and other publications on board voluntarily, the better it's going to be for everyone, but the history of press regulation has told us over the last 50 years that left to itself, self-regulation, pure self-regulation, does not work. It simply does not work, and I think we have reached a point now where we simply cannot listen to the same promises and the same commitments that we heard 22 years ago at Colcutt and say, "This time it's one more drink in the last-chance saloon."

We've been there and done that. There has to be now some kind of backstop regulatory framework which says, "You said you're going to do this, we think we believe you're going to do this, and if you're going to do it, you have nothing to fear, but we're going to be here and watch you just to make sure that you actually do that."

One final point. There is, I think, almost a deliberate campaign sometimes amongst those who don't want any kind of statutory involvement at all to talk about state interference, and there are comparisons made with Zimbabwe and Burma and Hungary and all sorts of other awful countries on the basis that as soon as you involve Parliament, the world falls apart.

I think we have to accept ultimately we live in a democracy, we have elected representatives in Parliament, that is what the legislature is for. We are not talking about government intervention in speech. We're talking about Parliament laying down a framework for a process which ensures that the kinds of excesses that we've seen over the last five years, and indeed 20 years ago, don't happen again.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech