29 Nov 2012

Press regulation opposed in UK

1:45 pm on 29 November 2012

More than 80 MPs and members of the House of Lords have written an open letter opposing any statutory regulation of the press in Britain.

The letter was published in the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers a day before the release of the Leveson report into the phone-hacking scandal.

"As parliamentarians, we believe in free speech and are opposed to the imposition of any form of statutory control even if it is dressed up as underpinning," their letter said, adding:

"No form of statutory regulation of the press would be possible without the imposition of state licensing - abolished in Britain in 1695."

The Leveson inquiry heard eight months of testimony from hacking victims, politicians and media figures. Lord Justice Brian Leveson's conclusions are to be published on Thursday.

The ABC reports the inquiry was set up after it emerged that the News of the World had hacked the phone of Milly Dowler, a murdered schoolgirl, as well as targeting dozens of crime victims, celebrities and politicians.

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that Britain's current newspaper regulation system was unacceptable.

"The status quo, I would argue, does not just need updating - the status quo is unacceptable and needs to change," Mr Cameron told parliament.

"This government set up Leveson because of unacceptable practices in parts of the media and a failed regulatory system."