A Westcountry Liberal Democrat MP has urged the Government to implement the Leveson report "in full" – despite claims it will curb free speech.
Andrew George, MP for St Ives, denied that the appeal court judge's recommendation of a new press watchdog underpinned by statute represented "'state control' of the media". His comments came as MPs last night debated the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics in the House of Commons.
Mr George has told the Prime Minister he should "respect the wishes" of the victims of "unacceptable" press intrusion by setting up an independent press complaints system underpinned by a regulator. He said: "This is nothing to do with the risk of 'state control' of the media. Nor would it in any way curtail the 'freedom of the Press'. I would be the first to protest at that.
"The so-called 'freedom' of the Press has to be balanced with responsibility of the Press; something which has been shown to be sadly lacking. The freedom to phone-hack and sensationalise is an abuse of power not a civil liberty."
Totnes Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston shares the Prime Minister's "misgivings" about changing the law to set up a regulator, warning it could be the thin end of the wedge that governments use in the future to suppress criticism.