Kelvin Mackenzie, former editor of The Sun, has launched a stinging attack on press regulation in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal and the subsequent Leveson inquiry.
Writing in an exclusive blog for The Huffington Post UK, Mackenzie slams the use of an archaic law to prosecute journalists who pay public officials for information, calling it "barmy" and "mad".
Mackenzie argues that it suppresses the kind of investigative journalism that uncovered the Jimmy Savile scandal or the physical abuse of Iraqi civilians in Iraq in 2006, reported by the News of the World.
Mackenzie believes that statutory press regulation will stifle British journalism
Twenty-one Sun journalists have been arrested under the 1906 Prevention of Corruption Act "simply for doing their job " despite the fact that "no journalist had ever been arrested under the Act in the previous 105 years since it was enacted."
Mackenzie adds: "Under the Act there is no public interest defence. So if a nurse calls up to disclose that due to poor care literally hundreds of elderly patients are dying at a Mid-Staffordshire hospital both she and reporter will face jail if she wants £500 for her trouble.
"And yet that call might have saved 1,600 lives."
The Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal has again brought the issue of press regulation into the spotlight.
There are those, like Mackenzie, who say that it clearly demonstrates the need for as free a press as possible in order to expose such people.
Others argue that it simply goes to prove that real investigative journalism will not be affected by regulation seeing as the story was the scoop of an Ofcom-regulated TV channel.
The Leveson report is expected to be published later this month.
Kelvin Mackenzie's blog can be read here.
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more