Paul Dacre, editor of Associated Newspapers Ltd.’s Daily Mail, said phone hacking at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid exposed police failures and government hypocrisy rather than a need for more industry regulation.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and other politicians who were previously too close to Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers are now hypocritically calling for better media regulation, Dacre said at a government inquiry. Self regulation of the industry has improved since the 1970s and isn’t to blame for the hacking scandal, which police failed to investigate earlier, he said.
“Over-regulate the press and you put democracy itself in peril,” Dacre said in London today. “Who should decide what’s of interest to the public? Politicians? Judges? Is that really what Britain wants?”
The probe, overseen by Judge Brian Leveson, was announced in July by Cameron nine days after the revelation that journalists at News of the World hacked into the phone of a murdered school girl in 2002. The probe’s scope extends beyond the now-shuttered tabloid, covering press ethics and its relationship with politicians and police.
Dacre said self regulation should be improved instead of enacting laws that would be put in place by politicians who may be the target of newspaper investigations, creating a conflict. An ombudsman should be named to assist the Press Complaints Commission, to oversee investigations of the most egregious journalistic failures, he said. He also said Cameron had prejudiced the inquiry by saying the PCC was a failure.
Trinity Mirror Chief Executive Officer Sly Bailey told the same inquiry today that her company, which publishes Britain’s Daily Mirror and more than 160 other newspapers, banned the use of private investigators and regularly evaluates risks to the company, including “catastrophic editorial failure,” as part of its wide ranting corporate governance procedures.
Associated Newspapers is a unit of Daily Mail & General Trust Plc.