Newspaper Society: No evidence to support statutory regime for local press regulation

Newspaper Society director David Newell has reaffirmed the group’s commitment for self-regulation ahead of the publication of the Leveson report tomorrow – arguing there is no evidence to support a statutory regime for the local press.

In a message to the Government Newell wrote that the UK’s 1,100 local and regional paper “urge the Government to consult the wider public on Leveson’s recommendations” when they are published tomorrow.

“The public’s views in the nations, regions and localities of the UK, which have so far not been the focus of the Leveson inquiry or of politicians, should be at the centre of the debate on press freedom and press regulation,” said Newell.

“No evidence has been produced to Leveson which justifies controlling local and regional newspapers through a new system of Government controls under a statutory regime.

“Any state system would mean that the Government crossed a line of historic and constitutional significance. This would alter the relationship between Government and its citizens and jeopardise individual freedoms.”

In October, Newell told those advocating a system of press regulation underpinned by statute that they had failed to address the “fundamental issue” of freedom of expression.

Newell argued that statutory involvement risked “re-imposing on some media a licensing regime which was abolished in the 17th century”

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson called statutory regulation of the media “entirely preposterous” when addressing an audience of Indian business students yesterday.

“The British media is one of the glories of our country,” he said. “They keep politicians' feet very firmly held to the fire, which is absolutely right.

“There is a bit of a dispute going on about whether we have regulation of the media, which would be entirely preposterous.

“One of the wonders of India is that you have such a gloriously unfettered press.”

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