Freedom does not mean lawlessness

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THE taxpayer-funded press regulation circus moves to Phase Two.

A 2,000-page report, which no-one will ever read, takes its place in the nation’s 
archives; the 56-page summary unleashes another bitter coalition row.

Is this the end of press 
freedom as we know it?

On Tuesday, 86 members of the Lords and Commons pointed out that “no form of statutory regulation of the press would be possible ­without the imposition of state licensing” .

Some point out that it will make little difference anyway, now that most of our media intake comes from the internet and largely from abroad, thus falling outside UK jurisdiction.

The whole debate is such a load of rubbish.

Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry has uncovered a deeply entrenched culture within a small number of large, national press companies, 
according to which the press stands above the law.

The inquiry has found evidence of harassment, phone-tapping, voicemail-hacking, e-mail-hacking, police bribing, and just about every other trick in the book to squeeze information out of a defenceless victim – Milly Dowler, anyone? – with one goal and purpose alone: making more money.

Where I grew up, in Italy, we have a word for this sort of thing: large organisations hacking, bribing and blackmailing their way to ever greater profits: a five-letter word, starting with “M”.

It is high time the British press came off its pedestal, and accepted that independence is not the same as ­lawlessness.

The only compliance the country expects from its press is that journalists be made to obey the law of the land, as we all should.

And for that, we do not need a new taxpayer-funded watchdog, adding regulatory burdens to thousands of good, honest journalists across the country, while leaving plenty of loopholes for the dishonest to get away with it.

We have the police, and we have the courts, and they should do their job: put the criminals behind bars. Whether they happen to be journalists, or not.

Haro de Grauw

Station Road

St Monans, Fife