Amelia Hill: Met has scuppered state regulation of press

Amelia Hill, the Guardian journalist questioned by police investigating leaks from the Met’s phone-hacking probe, has thanked Scotland Yard for inadvertently undermining the case for state regulation of the press.

Hill, who has broken a series of exclusives during the scandal, was questioned under police caution earlier this month following the arrest of a 51-year-old officer accused of leaking information to the paper.

This followed news the Met was planning to apply for a court order forcing The Guardian and Hill to disclose confidential sources used in its phone-hacking coverage, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the Official Secrets Act. The force backed down last week amid a storm of opposition from the media and politicians.

‘I think we should thank the Metropolitan Police for vindictively going after the newspaper that exposed the criminality of News International and exposed the quasi-criminality of the Metropolitan Police in failing to investigate that,’Hill said in an interview at the International Press Institute World Congress in Taiwan.

‘I think we should be grateful to the Met for that because they’ve exposed themselves to such ridicule that the whole concept of state regulation now is that the government won’t want to touch it for another generation.”

Hill argued that while ‘responsible journalists would like there to be entirely voluntary regulation”, amongst too many journalists there was ‘a belief that there was no concept of privacy”.

‘I think that the argument now for voluntary agreement is dead,’she claimed. ‘Self-regulation, it’s not going to happen.”

She instead what is needed is independent regulation of the press “but with a statutory backstop… so that journalists who want to do good, decent journalism have regulatory backing for it and journalists who don’t want to do that sort of journalism, they have sanctions and we have a way of keeping them in check.’

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