MPs on Leveson Report: Press should not be regulated

TWO Comet country MPs have spoken out against bringing in new laws to regulate the press, ahead of today’s Leveson report.

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley and Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland have both signed a letter, along with around 80 other MPs, which urges Lord Justice Leveson not to recommend a press regulation law.

It comes following the Leveson Inquiry, launched last year to look into journalism practices and ethics following allegations of illegal phone hacking at the News of the World.

Speaking to the Comet this week, both Mr McPartland and Mr Lilley said current laws should be enforced better, but disagreed with introducing new ones.

“I don’t believe in state regulation of the press,” said Mr McPartland.

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“Any state regulation of the media would be the first step of censoring media, and any form of regulation would send a very bad signal around the world to emerging democracies.

“Freedom of speech and the press is the most important thing – censorship is the first step to dictatorship.”

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Mr Lilley made similar remarks to his fellow Conservative MP.

“Both phone hacking and bribing police are against the law already,” he told the Comet.

“We shouldn’t jump from one control to justifying largely irrelevant laws of gagging press.”

Mr Lilley did say, however, there needed to be a change in apologies from newspapers.

“If a newspaper or the BBC says something untruthful about someone, they shouldn’t hide an apology on page 75 between advertisements,” he added.

“It should be [given] the same prominence as the original offence.”

Prime minister David Cameron received a copy of the report yesterday (Wednesday). It will be made public today.

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