Professor Brian Cathcart, Executive Director of Hacked Off, said:
“This story illustrates exactly why ministers must be kept at arm’s length from the regulation of the press. It cannot be right that politicians who are subject to the scrutiny of the newspapers and who are constantly vulnerable to public challenge in this way are sitting down with editors and proprietors of those same newspapers to design a press regulation system.
“The direct involvement of ministers in these secret negotiations means no one can be confident that the public’s interests are being served rather than the interests of the editors and proprietors, or of the politicians.
“Lord Justice Leveson, after a thorough, year-long inquiry, proposed a mechanism that would operate independently and openly in the public interest. The Leveson plan means that politicians would have no direct personal involvement in regulating the press.
“The judge in his report also called for absolute transparency of contacts between the press and the government about the report itself, as opposed to backroom deals and private conversations.
“We do not want to see political influence in press regulation and this story highlights just that risk.”
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