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

The British press is very like a curate's egg. There are some very good parts of the press and there are some parts which are not very good at all. I'm referring here in terms of the parts that fall short of high standards.

They don't report the news accurately. They tend to deal in caricatures. They tend to take a particular point and stretch it beyond what is reasonable. You may remember in the first film of Mr Chips, Mr Chips refers to a boy who was always exaggerating a nought to a ten in his examination results. The worst part of journalism does exactly that. It takes something that has a tiny kernel of truth in it, perhaps, and it stretches it beyond where it would naturally or honestly go, and I think that is very bad journalism.

I suppose one message that I have had a lot of time to reflect upon over the years is you cannot see the British press as a single entity. Nobody should do that. It's not the case that every part of the British press misbehaves. It is the case, sadly, that some of it misbehaves, and what I hope will emerge from this Inquiry and thereafter is action that will take -- that will lift the worst of the press to the standards of the best of the press. Nobody wishes to restrain their natural freedom of comment. Nobody wishes to determine what they should put in their papers, but I think if what they put in their papers is grotesque, then I think there is a balance between the freedom of the press to print what they like and the liberty of the individual to be protected from things that are untrue, unfair or malicious, and we may come to that later.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech