Prime Minister David Cameron has been urged by the editor of his local paper not to impose statutory regulation on the press in response to the upcoming Leveson Report.
Similar calls to protect press freedom came from the editors of the local newspapers that cover the constituencies of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Culture Secretary Maria Miller.
Following a lengthy inquiry into media standards sparked by allegations of phone-hacking at the News of the World, Lord Justice Leveson is expected to deliver his report within weeks.
Mr Cameron has indicated he will implement any recommendations which are not “bonkers”, but there are believed to be differences within the government over whether that should include putting the press under statutory controls.
Campaign group Hacked Off revealed yesterday that more than a dozen victims of press intrusion will meet all three major party leaders in Westminster tomorrow to urge them to live up to commitments to implement the Leveson recommendations.
A spokesman for Hacked Off said none of those involved in tomorrow’s event were celebrities, adding: “We are grateful the three party leaders have agreed to meet us and we will be asking them to continue the cross-party consensus that marked the launch of the Leveson Inquiry.”
But in a message to Mr Cameron yesterday, Simon O’Neill, group editor of the Oxford Mail and the Oxford Times, said: “A free press is essential to a truly democratic society. Weaken the former and you weaken the latter. It really is as simple as that.”
However, Mr O’Neill added: “If Leveson flushes out the immoral, illegal and downright despicable practices of a small section of our industry, he will have done journalism and society as a whole a great service.”