Justice Secretary backs press self-regulation

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke today gave his backing to continued self-regulation of the press, warning against state intervention and ‘ludicrous quangos”.

In an address to the Society of Editors conference, Clarke said that while there was a ‘serious crisis of confidence’in the UK press no ‘serious politician’would support the case for statutory regulation.

‘We certainly don’t want the imposition of ludicrous quangos or statutory controls or anything of the kind,’he said

‘What we do want is a balanced response.”

Referring to Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s appearance at the Leveson Inquiry seminar last month, he added: ‘He [Dacre] talked about the need for self regulation, which is my instinct as well. God save you from another quango… and certainly we don’t want state intervention and control.”

Commenting on the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed the News of the World, Clarke said he was not ‘surprised’that illegal phone-hacking had taken place.

‘It was widely believed that such methods were used,’he said, adding: ‘What did shock me was the extent of what was revealed.”

He said his message to the press was ‘not to underestimate the extent of the crisis of confidence which we’re going through at the moment… but for heaven’s sake stop getting paranoid about it because there are very few people in this country that are intending to threaten the freedom of the British press.

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