James Downey: Politicians will seize their chance to gag the media
Published 26/11/2011 | 05:00
NEARLY 20 years ago a British cabinet minister, David Mellor, told the 'red-top' tabloids that they were "drinking in the Last Chance Saloon". By this, he meant that the next spate of outrageous behaviour could lead to statutory regulation instead of self-regulation, meaning severe curbs on their activities and their ability to do their job.
As luck would have it, about the same time, Mr Mellor got himself involved in one or two colourful incidents. You can well imagine his adversaries' glee. They claimed that curbing their freedom to expose misconduct would undermine a fundamental liberty, freedom of expression.
Of course, they were right. And, of course, Paul Dacre, the editor in chief of the 'Daily Mail', is right now when he says that British politicians' current onslaught on the media, as expressed in the setting up of the inquiry under Lord Justice Leveson into phone hacking and other outrages, has about it a smell of "hypocrisy and revenge".