Leveson Inquiry: David Cameron condemned over media regulation

Senior media figures hit out at the Prime Minister today as they launched a robust defence of self-regulation.





Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie launched a scathing criticism of David Cameron's "obsessive arse-kissing" of the Murdochs and slammed the "ludicrous" inquiry into media ethics and phone hacking.



His comments came after Associated Newspapers editor-in-chief Paul Dacre accused Mr Cameron of a "cynical act of political expediency" by declaring the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) was a "failed" body.



At the latest Leveson Inquiry seminar, editors united in their support of self-regulation.



Mr Mackenzie said: "The only reason we are all here is due to one man's action; Cameron's obsessive arse-kissing over the years of Rupert Murdoch."









Mr Mackenzie said Mr Cameron wanted Rupert Murdoch "onside at all costs".



He said "There was never a party, a breakfast, a lunch, a cuppa or a quiet word or drink that Cameron and Co would not turn up to in force if The Great Man or his handmaiden Rebekah Brooks was there.



"There was always a queue to kiss their rings. It was gut wrenching."



He said final proof the Prime Minister had "clearly gone quite potty" was his hiring of Andy Coulson as his director of communications, but the phone hacking scandal had prompted him to order: "Stop the arse kissing and start the arse kicking".



Regularly prompting laughter, Mr MacKenzie mocked both the inquiry as well as poking fun of its chairman Lord Justice Leveson, "who couldn't win when prosecuting counsel against Ken Dodd for tax evasion".



Mr MacKenzie mocked questions asked of the inquiry's witnesses, including if an editor knew the sources of many stories.



"To be frank, I didn't bother during my 13 years with one important exception", saying that time the Sun was later forced to pay out £1 million in libel damages to Elton John.



Mr MacKenzie said there were "plenty of laws" to cover what had happened rather than the inquiry: "This is the way in which our Prime Minister is hopeful he can escape his own personal lack of judgment."



He said Rupert Murdoch told an anecdote about Gordon Brown "roaring" down the phone at him after the Sun overshadowed his Labour Party conference speech by deciding to endorse Mr Cameron for the next election, prompting Brown to declare: "you are trying to destroy me and my party. I will destroy you and your company".



The point of the anecdote was to show there is "nothing wrong with the press", and the scandal was "simply a moment in time when low-grade criminality took over a newspaper", he said.



"If anything, the only recommendation that should be put forward by Leveson is one banning by law over-ambitious and under-talented politicians from giving house room to proprietors who are seeking commercial gain from their contacts.



"In tabloid terms, arse kissing will be illegal."













Associated Newspapers editor-in-chief Paul Dacre said over-regulating the press would "Put democracy itself in peril", also hitting out at the Prime Minister.



"Am I alone in detecting the rank smells of hypocrisy and revenge in the political class's current moral indignation over a British press that dared to expose their greed and corruption.



"The same political class, incidentally, that, until a few weeks ago, had spent years indulging in sickening genuflection to the Murdoch press."



Launching a staunch defence of self-regulation, Mr Dacre said: "Over-regulate that press and you put democracy itself in peril.



"And self-regulation, I would argue, is at the very heart of a free press.



"Which is why I profoundly regret that a Prime Minister - who had become too close to News International in general and Andy Coulson and Rebekah Wade in particular - in a pretty cynical act of political expediency has prejudiced the outcome of this inquiry by declaring that the PCC, an institution he'd been committed to only a few weeks previously, was a 'failed' body."



Mr Dacre said it was "emphatically not" and that the British press was "vastly better behaved" thanks to the PCC.



He said the commission was naive over phone hacking, but police were also to blame: "If phone hacking results in the abolition of the PCC, then logically it should result in the abolition of the police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service)."



Mr Dacre made several suggestions for reform of the PCC, including a way to compel all newspaper owners to fund and participate in self-regulation, and for corrections to be given more prominence.



From next week the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and Metro will introduce a Corrections and Clarifications column on page two, he said.



He also suggested the possibility of an Ombudsman for press standards.



"The Ombudsman could also have the power to summon journalists and editors to give evidence, to name offenders and, if necessary - in the cases of the most extreme malfeasance - to impose fines.



"On the principle of 'polluter pays', offending media groups could, within reason, be forced to carry the costs of any investigation affecting their newspapers."



Mr MacKenzie also defended the PCC, saying: "they were misled, they were lied to".



"The phone hacking had nothing to do with the press and regulation.



"You had a bunch of people, alleged criminals, that's what that was about."



He said the "over-reaction" of the inquiry was due to "a Prime Minister who has got his hand in the bloody till in a relationship with a powerful businessman".



John Kampfner, chief executive of Index on Censorship, echoed warnings of the over-regulation of the press, but said it would never be possible to create the "perfect media".



"That it happened was an indictment on two generations of politicians, from Tony Blair flying to an Australian island to kneel at the feet of Rupert Murdoch to David Cameron's intimate Oxfordshire suppers, to police chiefs taking jollies, to a so-called regulator happily taking no for an answer."

PA

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Senior Account Executive / Account Executive

£25 - 30k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are looking for an Accoun...

Account Manager / Sales Account Manager / Recruitment Account Manager

£25k Basic (DOE) – (£30k year 1 OTE) : Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright A...

Resourcer / Junior Recruiter

£15-20k (DOE) + Benefits / Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright R...

Web Designer / Digital Designer

£25 - 40k (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Web Desig...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits