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

I think one has to be very careful about how one defines it. Will there be people who say the freedom of the press is sacrosanct and you must not harm it? Yes, there will certainly be people who say that.

If they would then ask a second question: is it tolerable that people should have their homes broken into, that they should have their privacy broken into by long lenses, that they should have their bank accounts broken into, they would say: no, that is not acceptable.

So there is a divergence. As so often in politics, the public would want two apparently contrasting things. They would want the freedom of the press and they would also want protection against those sort of activities, and that, if I may say so, is the difficult balance that needs to be kept in terms of how one goes ahead and deals with this particular problem.

I think you err on the side of the minimum amount of direction and control but I don't think it is credible any longer for the phrase "the freedom of the press" to be interpreted as though it were a licence to do anything. I think there is a need to offer some protection in the interests of the liberty of the individual, and the extremely difficult balancing trick will be to find out exactly what can be done and finding a way in which you can frame that that genuinely does not harm legitimate investigative reporting. There is a genuine argument to be had there and I don't pretend for one second that it is clearcut or easy to find a way through that.

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