McGregor dismisses calls for privacy law
The commission was 'the conscience of British editors,' Lord McGregor said. 'I think editors are increasingly aware of the nature and context of the code of practice which they themselves drew up.'
Emphasising his opposition to a statutory right of privacy, he said: 'I think the commission have demonstrated that self-regulation is working, though of course there are always occasions when important stories occupy the headlines.'
Under a review announced yesterday by David Mellor, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Sir David Calcutt QC, master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, will investigate whether self-regulation should be modified or put on a statutory basis, and whether more measures are needed to deal with press intrusions into personal privacy.
Lord McGregor said every committee that had looked at the issue of a statutory right of privacy in the last 30 years, including the earlier investigation by Sir David which led to the creation of the commission, had decided it was undesirable in principle. He added: 'It would be wrong in practice because it would hand the issue of the proper relationship between private rights and the public interest to lawyers.
'That would mean the whole area would become subject to legal manipulation, playing the legal game. When legal games like that are played the procedure becomes very slow and very expensive. Only people like (the late) Robert Maxwell can afford actions like that.' When the commission was set up to replace the old Press Council, Mr Mellor, then at the Home Office, told newspapers they were 'drinking in the last chance saloon'.
The Government warned it would review self-regulation after the commission's first 18 months of operation.
Peter Preston, editor of the Guardian, who became a member yesterday, said Mr Mellor's announcement amounted to extending the industry's probation period.
Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, who chaired the Press Council, said: 'On the whole I don't see very much change in the behaviour of the press.'
In some ways they appeared to have been more careful, particularly during the election, but that was offset by 'bad cases' such as stories about the Princess of Wales and Paddy Ashdown.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
- 2 Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Teacher looking fo...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...
£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...