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

Well, the grounds of principle we had in mind was the freedom of the press to comment. That was why we regarded the idea of a statutory tribunal as very much a very last resort and something that we were not at the time attracted to.

There is a very difficult balance to be kept that I think has become crystallised between early 1990s, when we looked at Calcutt 2, and today. There is the extremely important principle of the freedom of the press. Government cannot/should not dictate to the press what it should print. That is off the scale, not possible, and certainly not desirable. I don't know of any politician who would contemplate doing that.

But what we are seeing is that there are counterbalancing requirements. One is the freedom of the press. The other actually is the liberty of the individual who may have been maligned by the press.

You invited me a moment ago to set out some of the relatively trivial things that had happened to my family over the years. Well, there are many others who have given evidence to this Inquiry, or have not, who could cite far worse illustrations than that, and it isn't practical to say they can always go to law against the long pockets of the proprietors. It isn't practical. And in fact, without a privacy law, many of the elements of problems that they faced are simply not credible to take to court.

So when we talk of the freedom of the press, with which I agree, we do have to balance it with the rights of the individual, and when we come to what I propose, that is where I have made an attempt to do so, but I think at an early stage that balance needs to be recognised. Freedom of the press by all means, but do not forget the liberty of the individual. Freedom of the press must not mean a licence for the press to do whatever it wishes without let or hindrance.

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