Newspapers that engage in immoral behaviour to boost sales should be allowed to go to the wall, an MP has claimed.
Appearing before the joint Commons and Lords Committee on privacy and injunctions, Zac Goldsmith rejected arguments that tabloid newspapers needed to print stories about the private lives of famous people in order to sell.
- January 11, 2018
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- December 14, 2017
The MP, who has previously obtained a so-called super-injunction preventing the publication of private emails which had been leaked to the press, drew a comparison with the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
“If the only way a business can stay afloat is by engaging in immoral or unethical behaviour, then that business should either change its model or go out of business,” he said.
“No one said that Auschwitz should have been kept open because it created jobs.”
Hugh Grant, who was also appearing before the committee, claimed that on one occasion photographers slashed every surface of his car with a knife.
The actor, who has previously given evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, said the attack was “retribution” after he responded violently to paparazzi who had been harassing him.
Asked how he dealt with such situations, he said: “There is always arguing with them and then when that fails, there is violence, which I have tried on a couple of occasions.
“I have been arrested twice and had my car Stanley-knifed over every surface once in retribution from the paps.”
Comedian Steve Coogan, who has also previously given evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, told the committee that he had spent thousands of pounds in legal fees trying to defend his privacy.
“I at one point threatened an injunction against a newspaper that was going to publish a story about a member of my family, not about me, that was no way in the public interest,” he said.
“The correspondence that led to them not publishing cost me between £15,000 and £20,000.
“In my pursuit of having had my phone hacked, that has cost me over £200,000 so far. I hope I will get it back one day – I don’t know – so it keeps me awake.”
Goldsmith later said on Twitter that his point about newspaper sales “is valid” but conceded he “could/shd have made it citing something different”.
He added: “No-one can genuinely believe I equated tabloids to concentration camps. Silly.”
The star-studded panel were highly critical of the Press Complaints Commission, the body that monitors newspaper conduct, with Grant calling it “profoundly useless”.
PCC director Steven Abell defended the organisation later, telling MPs it “has got better in certain areas”.