Guardian journalist Nick Davies believes Fleet Street is trying to “bully” Lord Justice Leveson and predicts a “dogfight” between the press and Government when his report is published later this month.
Every national newspaper has come out in support of continued self-regulation and most nationals have published editorials attacking any form of state involvement.
Davies accused the press of behaving like “spoilt children” and “throwing their toys out of the pram” ahead of Leveson’s report, which publishers fear will recommend some form of statutory underpinning.
“The hysterical squealing from some parts of Fleet Street that any reform is a threat to press freedom is childish and bullying,” Davies told Press Gazette.
“The reality is that we can have a more free press at the same time as we can do something to protect victims from the worst excesses of Fleet Street.”
Davies, whose report on the News of the World hacking the voicemail messages of murdered teenager Milly Dowler helped trigger the inquiry, said it was “ridiculous to hear the likes of Paul Dacre and Trevor Kavanagh running around like spoilt children screaming and throwing their toys out of the pram”.
He added: “They have no idea what Leveson is going to say. These people are just used to having their way and they don’t like anyone daring to stand up to them.
“But thank God their day is over – I hope.”
Davies also said it would be “most interesting” to see how the Government reacts to Leveson’s report.
“On the one hand, the Government will know that there’s an enormous public pressure to do something to protect the victims of the media,” he said.
“On the other hand, they know there’s an election [to come] and they will not want to risk alienating those newspapers which are used to throwing their weight around in the run-up to the elections and trying to tell people how to vote.
“So the government are going to find it very difficult to finesse this. That in i itself is going to be a great story to cover – to watch that dogfight taking place.”