Ed Miliband suggests forced sale of Murdoch titles

Labour leader Ed Miliband called today for a cap on media ownership and suggested it should be set lower than the proportion of the market currently owned by the Murdoch empire.

The Labour leader told the Leveson Inquiry he had "no worries" about a company owning 20 per cent of the British market but said there was a "question of between 20-30 per cent".

News International held 37 per cent of the market until the closure of the News of the World but still retains a 34 per cent share, the inquiry was told.

Miliband told Lord Justice Leveson he did not believe one person should control 34 per cent of the British press.

He said his "strong instinct" was that it was "too much" he wanted to see the inquiry look at a lower limit.

He added: "There's a question about what the limits should be. I should say we have no worries about someone owning 20% of the news market. I think there is then a question of between 20-30 per cent where you should set a limit.

"That is where I'm coming from."

He told the inquiry his aim was not to "stifle one news organisation". "My aim is plurality and a sense that… one organisation does not exert an overweening power," he said.

Miliband also said he believed some form of statutory regulation of the press was needed. But he did not believe that should be used to tackle newspaper content.

He said: "I think what we need on redress is something which is independent of the press and politicians, something which is comprehensive covering all newspapers, magazines and there is a clear question about internet organisations, something which is accessible, provides fastrack justice or redress for individuals."

He added: "I haven't yet seen a way forward without some kind of statutory support for the system.

"I think it would be very important to insert in any Bill constitutional safeguards on the freedom of the press."

Miliband insisted he "would not countenance" any measures being used as a "licence for some massive bureaucratic assault on the press".

'Inappropriate' emails

Elsewhere in his evidence, Miliband told the inquiry today of a concern he raised about a former aide to ex-prime minister Gordon Brown.

Miliband said he discussed the activities of Damian McBride, who was forced to quit as a special adviser in April 2009 after sending "inappropriate" emails, with Brown in September 2008.

He said he was a Labour minister at the time and Mr Brown was prime minister.

Miliband told inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson: "I did raise a specific concern that I had with Mr Brown, I believe in September 2008, about some of Mr McBride's activities."

McBride resigned after admitting he sent "juvenile and inappropriate" emails from his Downing Street account to former spin doctor Derek Draper, who ran a Labour-supporting website.

In the private emails, the two men discussed setting up an "attack blog" called Red Rag that would have spread unfounded gossip about Conservative opponents.

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