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

Okay. We were not hostile to authority or government, but we thought -- for instance, in the House of Commons there were 95 subjects on which MPs could not ask questions. The most ludicrous thing that happened was that one of our staff members was on a cruise ship where I think 400 people were taken off with violent illnesses, so we wanted to investigate the sanitary conditions on cruise ships. The British government, the Board of Trade, would not give us any statistics about the inspection reports on these cruise ships, so we went to the United States, where the New York Port Authority said, "Here you are, here's the records you want", and of course that was an exemplar of the First Amendment of the United States and the openness of that society, and so we were able to expose the abuses in that particular trade, and it seemed to me absolutely ludicrous that we had to go to the United States to find relevant information. MPs couldn't find it.

The growth of corporate power and the growth of government was not sufficiently matched by a responsible press and by a law which I called it in a lecture I gave the "half free press". Half free press in the sense that by comparison with the United States, we were half free. Of course, by comparison with the Albanian People's Republic, we were fully free, but I also accepted the need for restraints, and in all the lectures and education work I did, I always stressed we must be absolutely sure of our facts, we must verify them and we must prepare to defend them in court, and we must never abuse the privilege of the free press, because we have no more rights than the ordinary citizen.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech