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

Mr Dacre deserves a compliment from me for the bravery he exhibited in challenging the Lawrence killing. I thought that was a superb piece of journalism.

On the improvement of the British press, if you're measuring it by quantity, the amount of newsprint now consumed, you can say there's been a gross tonnage appreciation. And in terms of quality, some of the writing -- I think that British journalism in its writing and in its design and expression is superior to American journalism, by and large, by and large. Having lived with both, some of the general standard in the American press is much higher so far as accuracy, checking and freedom of expression, and there are tabloids, like Mr Murdoch's Post in New York, which don't go for that, which go for the end of the trashy supermarket magazines.

So it's fair to say you can have a fair comparison between the American and British press in which the British press doesn't look too bad, but it's the excesses of the tabloids and the hysteria which is really where I part company with Mr Dacre. The persecution of individuals for no public good whatsoever. I think that is such a significant decline in the standards of the press, it's gone far beyond what it went in the Lambton Jellicoe case, with having a photographer behind a prostitute's mirror. It's now got entrapment, bribery, hacking, blagging.

We've got a situation in which newspapers are employing private detectives! We used to employ reporters, trained reporters, whose job it was to find the facts. And the idea that the press has now come to the fringes of the criminal underworld, I'm totally appalled by what I see.

So I have to part company from Mr Dacre in that regard, while paying tribute to the general standards, the quality of papers in Britain, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Times still remain pretty good and so on. And some the things the tabloids do are very, very good. But there needs to be some external restraints to stop this dissolution of civilised standards.

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