Do you have to be 'fit and proper' to own a paper?
All sorts of bonkers people and criminals have owned newspapers in the UK without MPs deciding they were not "fit and proper".
No-one stopped Robert Maxwell taking over the Mirror, former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev acquiring the Evening Standard and the Independent, Conrad Black buying the Telegraph or Richard Desmond taking over the Express.
The only one I can remember being blocked was David Sullivan (top), the LSE educated pornography publisher, who launched
the Sunday Sport and Daily Sport and was prevented in 1990 from taking a majority stake in the Bristol Evening Post and its sister title, the Western Daily Press.
Monopolies and Mergers Commission (Competition Commission) ruled that
Sullivan's acquisition of the Bristol newspapers would not be in the
public interest. Interestingly, it was not his porn background that
prevented the deal going head so much as a disastrous link up with the Daily Star and Express Newspapers.
The Commission ruled: "The evidence from Mr Sullivan's previous involvement with the Daily Star
suggests that his proposed acquisition could well impair the ability of
BEP newspapers to hold readers and advertisers and thus their
In the UK anyone can launch a newspaper without permission from the state. I once interviewed someone who launched a newspaper that you could also wear as a hat - it failed but no-one stopped them trying.
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
You can contact me with stories, ideas and comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery