Press inquiry condemns 'outrageous' national press
PRIME Minister David Cameron has said Parliament should be "wary" of passing laws of the kind recommended in the Leveson Report to regulate the press.
In a damning report on media standards, Lord Justice Leveson condemned decades of "outrageous" behaviour by national newspapers, saying some elements acted as if their own code of conduct "simply did not exist", and "wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people".
But his report also called on the Government to support local papers.
Lord Leveson said: "I suggest that the Government should look urgently at what action it might be able take to help safeguard the ongoing viability of this much valued and important part of the British press.
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"It is clear to me that local, high-quality and trusted newspapers are good for our communities, our identity and our democracy and play an important social role.
"Their demise would be a huge setback for communities (where they report on local politics, occurrences in the local courts, local events, local sports and the like) and would be a real loss for our democracy."
Mike Norton, editor of The Post, said: "It would be disappointing were the entire press to be judged by the alleged criminality and recklessness of a few national newspaper journalists.
"Like all local newspapers, The Post trains journalists who are rooted in their local communities and who carry out their trade with extraordinary care, dedication and professionalism.
"That is why, in his report, Lord Justice Leveson singled out local newspapers for a contribution to local life that was 'truly without parallel' and said that the criticisms of the press culture raised at the inquiry did not affect papers like The Bristol Post."
Lord Leveson proposed a new independent press regulator with "credible" rules and powers to enforce them, and said that this should be underpinned by legislation giving the statutory regulator Ofcom a role in "verifying" the independence and effectiveness of the new body. But while welcoming a new regulator, Mr Cameron told MPs he had "serious concerns and misgivings" about "writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land".
Bristol South Labour MP Dawn Primarolo said: "There are, of course, many more examples of excellent journalism than there are of the stories which dominated the Leveson Inquiry.
"But that does not mean that we should not act."
Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy said: "Self-regulation, backed by law, will protect ordinary people, while ensuring a free press."
Filton and Bradley Stoke Tory MP Jack Lopresti said: "Freedom of the press is an important and hard-fought cornerstone of our democracy but with that freedom the press must act responsibly."
Kingswood Tory MP Chris Skidmore said: "Above all, the press must always remain the servant of the people – it cannot become a slave of the state."
Christopher Jefferies, the Clifton landlord who was libelled by national newspapers after being wrongly arrested over the murder of his tenant Joanna Yeates, said it would be a "disaster" if Mr Cameron did not bring in new laws.