Response to Whittingdale’s comments at CMS Oral Questions

Secretary of State John Whittingdale answered several questions on press regulation matters at Culture, Media and Sport Oral Parliamentary Questions in the House of Commons this morning.

Here are two of his remarks:

Having had my faith tested perhaps to the utmost, I still believe that press freedom is a vital component of a free society and we should tread very carefully.”

“Two regulators are now being established, and we will see how effective they are.

The full exchanges are available here.

Commenting, Dr Evan Harris, Joint Executive Director of Hacked Off, said:

“[In his answers to MPs on press regulation] Mr Whittingdale let slip the real truth. That despite Leveson and the Royal Charter banning ministers from running or judging press regulation, it is he who will determine if regulators are independent and tough, he will choose whether laws passed by parliament should affect the press, and he will decide if the earlier decision to investigate alleged press-police corruption should be revoked. His intervention in press regulation creates the conflict of interest that is now so obvious. In fact, by volunteering that his “faith in press freedom had been tested to the utmost”, he admitted that he has power over the press which he could use. This power to issue veiled threats is totally unacceptable to both newspapers and to victims of press abuse.”



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