UK Newspaper Editors Side With Cameron Opposing Media Regulation By Law

Category: Society / Nov 29, 2012 5:08PM EDT
British newspaper editors kicked back on Thursday (November 29) against a Leveson report recommendation for a press watchdog backed by law . The Leveson inquiry into media ethics was triggered by the phone hacking scandal. Newspapers are generally in favor of an independent press regulator, but do not agree with it being underpinned by law. Bob Satchwell, Executive Director of the Society of Editors, said such a move could restrict freedom of the press. "As soon as you have some law that is specific to the press that's when it infringes on press freedom," Satchwell said. "What we are saying is that journalists and the press should not have any special laws other than the ones which we are all subject to as citizens and that's where the danger lies, that's where the undermining of freedom of expression and freedom of the press can come in." Paul Connew, former editor of the tabloid Sunday Mirror, does not agree with the law despite having been a victim of phone-hacking himself. "They've taken a dangerous step, or potentially dangerous step back in time. And I also think internationally it sends out a rather negative message to journalists and citizens in countries where you have regimes with appalling human rights records," Connew said. "In those countries individuals and journalists have looked up to the press for all its faults and all its raucous tabloids, but broadly speaking the British press is a free press, they refer to it as the great free press of the world and I think this is a retrograde step," he said. Shortly after the Leveson report was released, Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament he had serious concerns about legislation to regulate the media. His stance will delight British media ahead of the 2015 election, but has angered victims of phone-hacking and will deepen a divide in Cameron's coalition government and within his own party.