Leveson Inquiry: 'Commercial pressure not to blame'

The first seminar held by the Leveson Inquiry into media standards and ethics has heard evidence that commercial pressures were not to blame for the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Media analyst Claire Enders noted that 2005 was in fact the high watermark for newspaper revenues in the UK. This was around the period when hacking was believed to be rife at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

‘The most ethical publications lose the most money and the most profitable papers produce the most complaints to the Press Complaints Commission,’said Enders.

Opening the session, former NoW editor Phil Hall said that when he first became editor in 1995 the paper sold 4.7m copies.

In his first conversation with proprietor Rupert Murdoch he was asked how many papers he expected to be selling in five years’ time.

Hall said he suggested a target of five million but that Murdoch’s response was that the paper would be selling around 4m or 4.1m copies.

He said: ‘He [Murdoch]knew all about the circulation trends of newspapers… the only pressure on me was to produce a great campaigning newspaper.”

Hall insisted the phone-hacking scandal was not caused by pressure to produce big stories. Instead, he believed it was caused by a failure of checks and balances in one particular newsroom.

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