Chris Patten: newspaper journalism does not need statutory regulation
Ahead of giving evidence to Leveson, chairman of BBC trust warns against political involvement in matters of free speech
Newspapers should not be subject to statutory regulation, according to the chairman of the BBC Trust, who has warned against allowing politicians to "become involved in determining matters of free speech".
Lord Patten of Barnes, who will give evidence at the Leveson inquiry on Monday, said in an interview with the Times that newspapers should continue to be treated differently from broadcasters and not come under the control of a body such as Ofcom.
Patten said that it was "inevitable" that people would look at the BBC and other broadcasters and ask why, considering their journalism is regulated without apparently infringing their freedom, could not a similar system be devised for newspapers.
"It's a good question … [but] I think broadcasters are in a different position to the written press, largely because we are an intrusive medium," Patten said.
"When those bloody photographs of Colonel Gaddafi's corpse appeared on the front page, a parent who didn't want a kid to see it could put the newspaper away. If you are doing the Six O'Clock News right into people's sitting room, it's intrusive. So it's understandable that broadcasters should be regulated in a way that newspapers aren't."
Patten, a former chairman of the Conservative party, said that he had yet to be told how the system could become more credible "without a statutory backup".
He also revealed that an international firm of headhunters had been appointed to produce the first "succession plan" to fill the post of BBC director general when Mark Thompson steps down.
The chosen candidate would be paid significantly less than the £671,000 earned by Thompson, according to Patten, who said that he expected Thompson to remain in the role for as long as he wished.
Thompson has long been rumoured to be planning to step down from his post after the Olympics. He said in November: "I have no plans to leave the BBC. There probably is an Olympics after which I will leave, but who knows which one?"
guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds