Sunday 17 July 2011

Sunday Times: 'Scandal must not curb fee press'

The Sunday Times in a leader today admits that if its owner, News International, had acted faster over the phone hacking scandal it could have eased some of the pressure on the company.

But it argues that "at least it is now seen to be doing the right thing and this should lessen the wildly inaccurate speculation."

The leader continues: "The principles that should guide the response to the phone hacking scandal are simply stated. Indefensible and illegal practices such as phone hacking should never have occurred. But the reaction should not be draconian regulations that clamp down on good journalism. Britain needs an open and independent free press. Politicians may be tempted to curb the press, but everyone will be the poorer if they succeed.

"The political ramifications, too, have been wideranging. Ed Miliband, sensing he had little to lose, has proved himself a surprisingly effective opponent of Mr Murdoch. David Cameron, however, has looked consistently on the back foot, forever seeking to defend his employment of Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor, as his director of communications.

"Backbenchers, meanwhile, have been gripped by a collective hysteria of moral indignation. Raw from the exposure of their venality over expenses, they have relished their moment of revenge, laughably aligning themselves with oppressed peoples throwing off their chains.

The Sunday Times also hits back at the accusations made against the paper by Godon Brown. It says: "Mr Brown also criticised the Sunday Times investigation into his purchase of a flat from a former Robert Maxwell company, of which his friend Geoffrey Robinson was a director. The story was in the public interest. Mr Brown’s talk of a 'criminal-media nexus' was absurd and demeaning."

The paper concludes: "We can only hope that out of this frenzy a more responsible press will emerge. Certain things will not change, however: the media and politicians will always have a close relationship of mutual interest and hostility. It’s not perfect but, like democracy, nobody has come up with a better system."

  • Sunday Times columnist Jeremy Clarkson says today that what Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron discussed most at the famous Christmas lunch, at which Clarkson was also a guest, was...sausage rolls.
  • The Sunday Times is behind a paywall.
  • Press Freedom is a Messy Business writes Peter Preston in the Observer.

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