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

So I believe. But again, you know, I come back to this point. I am old enough to have been foreign office minister responsible for Eastern Europe, and it was very interesting to have my glass of beer with Herr Honecker and wait upon Mr Ceausescu. But, you know, so much of the way in which those people kept control of their countries was through all manner of intrusions which were justified just by the need to keep tabs on people.

I think one of the things that surely must be of interest to this inquiry is to ensure that the methods that are used to deal with what is basically no better than tittle-tattle, you know -- the distinction we all talk about, which is so -- almost impossible to actually honour, what is of interest to the public and what is in the public interest. A whole lot of the methods that are used by the tabloid press are totally and utterly -- maybe they are not so bad now as they were -- totally and utterly unacceptable in terms of their intrusiveness and which justifies what Princess Grace once said, you know: "I don't object to the freedom of the press, as long as it leaves other people some freedom as well."

And we end up, I think, in a situation where -- all of this is so old now and all of this is still hanging about as unfinished business. Why did Calcutt recommend three criminal offences against intrusion? Because he was equally, I think, as struck, as I always have been, that the methods that are used cannot be justified by any of the product. The product is merely titillation.

Then we come back, of course, to the real problem here. The real problem here is the British people, because the British people love to read this stuff, you know, and the annoyance that the British people have with the tabloids is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in the glass. You know, why do we queue up to read this stuff? I think because it is the last big throwback to Victorian England and repressive lives, in the sense that the tabloids produce this stuff not because it is fun for them; they produce this stuff because they think they will sell more papers.

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