Daily Mail editor in chief Paul Dacre has issued a punchy defence of the British newspaper industry saying journalists are “indisputably better behaved”.
But he says an industry ombudsman should be established to work with the Press Complaints Committee to prevent scandals such as phone hacking again.
“We are in danger of ignoring the fact that news does not grow on trees. Establishing the truth requires resource and it’s becoming increasingly difficult,” he told the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking.
Dacre, famed in Fleet Street for his tough editorial stance, believes the ombudsman should have power to investigate potential press scandals, summon journalists to give evidence, and name and shame offending journalists or editors.
His lecture centred on the question of increased regulation of the press – an issue which had him seemingly bubbling with rage.
He outlined three myths about increased regulation. He believes popular opinion about declining industry standards is wrong.
“It is vastly better behaved and disciplined than when I started in the 1970s. Then conduct was truly outrageous.”
The second myth was that self regulation doesn’t work. He pointed out that police failed in prosecuting perpetrators which added to the problem.
In his final myth buster he hit out at regulated countries such as France which he described as having a "pathetic, torpid and over-subsidised" press.
But Dacre also said British newspapers are in a “sick financial state” and future reforms should take into account commercial needs of all newspapers.
He hit out at “liberal hatred of mass selling newspapers”, the Internet and also at foreign newspapers.
On the Internet he said it was “utterly” unregulated and it would be “commercially ruinous to stop British newspapers from printing information which is available elsewhere.”