A new YouGov poll for The Sun found that three in four UK adults fear that “allowing MPs to police newspapers could see governments gag the Press”.
The Sun said that the new survey “reveals deep unease by the public about any new watchdog run by the state” in a page six story today.
More people want a tough new system of self-governing by the press rather than letting Parliament draw up rules.
And 43 per cent said politicians should not interfere because “it is vital for our democracy that a free press is protected, whatever the failings of a few journalists”.
Only 36 per cent said media groups cannot be trusted to set up their own system.
The survey of 1,608 adults by the independent pollsters also found almost double prefer self-regulation enforced by legally binding contracts — proposed by newspapers and peers — instead of a body set up by Parliament, by 42 per cent to 24.
The poll, the first of its kind, will fuel the already heated row in Westminster ahead of the Leveson Inquiry’s report.
After the results were released this morning, however, the reform group Hacked Off released a statement saying the YouGov poll found a less sympathetic result that was not published by the paper:
Asked to what extent, if at all, would you trust newspapers to set up a fair system of press regulation?
Percentage of the public that trust newspapers a lot: 1%
Percentage of the public that trust newspapers a fair amount: 26%
Percentage of the public that do not trust newspapers a lot or at all: 63%
Professor Brian Cathcart, director of Hacked Off, said:
This is another example of selective and biased reporting of the debate over press regulation that we have seen in most of the national press.
The newspapers are under scrutiny and surely have an obligation to present the facts fully and fairly to their readers.
"The finding on trust levels is a damning one, which supports earlier polls showing the public no longer believe they can rely on the press to police itself and want a new regulator, independent of both politicians and the newspaper industry.
Click here to see the results of the Ofcom poll