Leveson Inquiry: Evgeny Lebedev defends political talks

 

Evgeny Lebedev has said he sees "no issue" with politicians and newspaper proprietors meeting each other because "we operate in the same sphere of existence".

The chairman of the companies which own The Independent and London's Evening Standard said newspaper owners should be able to meet senior politicians as long as they do not "attempt to influence policy".

The son of former KGB operative Alexander Lebedev told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards he had never been asked by a politician for any of his newspapers to lend support to a particular party or policy.

He said: "I am interested in finding out about Government policy and what is going on in Government and politicians are interested in finding out about what is going on in the media world."

Mr Lebedev, who took British citizenship in 2010, took control of the companies that run the Independent and Evening Standard after they were bought by the Lebedev family.

He added: "Politicians over-estimate the influence of newspapers and it does make them more feeble. They pay too much attention to what the press say."

Mr Lebedev said he counts Mayor of London Boris Johnson as a friend, adding: "There are various degrees of friendship, but yes I consider him as a friend.

"Having knowledge from the horse's mouth about London issues for me is very valuable," he said.

He said that he sees Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah "every so often" but has only met David Cameron four times since he became Prime Minister.

Mr Lebedev said he would not have a problem with a statutory press regulatory body, adding: "I do not see any problem with any statutory underpinning."

But he warned that a new press watchdog should not curb freedom of expression in the British press, highlighting the state-controlled parts of the Russian media.

"This country has a robust and diverse press which needs to be protected," he said.

"It needs to be treasured and valued because I have seen the other side.

"As we have seen in recent revelations there has been an extraordinary abuse of power by the press and that should not happen again."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...

Guru Careers: Entry-Level Account Executive

£18 - 22k (DOE): Guru Careers: Entry-Level Account Executive to join a full se...

Guru Careers: Account Director

£38 - 45k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Director to join a full ser...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Communications Executive - eCRM / digital comms

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Communications Executive -...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks