Inquiry into complaints alleging corrupt relationships between police and newspaper organisations

Part of Policing and Crime Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 10th January 2017.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot 5:15 pm, 10th January 2017

I hope the Government will not be intimidated by a campaign the press are waging at the moment to try to deter them from implementing the Leveson recommendations. May I just tell the Minister that yesterday I submitted my monthly article for the Aldershot News & Mail, as I had been invited to do—[Interruption.] May I say to hon. Members on both sides that it is normally very good reading? The article was about press freedom. I received an e-mail yesterday evening saying that the paper was sorry that it would not be publishing it because it was “contradictory” to its stance on “a free press”. It is extraordinary that the Aldershot News & Mail, owned by the Daily Mirror group, feels it is so vulnerable that it cannot accept an article by myself—my hon. Friend Mr Jayawardena is the other contributor. Leaving aside my criticism of the Aldershot News & Mail, with which I was pretty robust this morning, may I say to the Minister that this illustrates a real paranoia in the media about this issue and it is our responsibility, as parliamentarians, to be straightforward and recognise that what we are seeking to do is to protect not ourselves but ordinary people?