Singer Charlotte Church backed the findings of the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday, calling it a “real and practical way of dealing with the problems of the press”.
The former child star, herself a victim of press intrusion, spoke eloquently and with conviction on BBC’s Question Time, arguing the case for a legal underpinning of a regulatory body for the press, clashing with former executive editor of the News of the World and Huff Post blogger, Neil Wallis.
Wallis argued that “ethically” the newspaper industry “got things wrong”, but said that existing laws already covered activities by the media that were illegal, describing regulation as a "grave threat to the freedom of the press".
Church shot back: “When Kate McCann’s diaries were printed in the News of the World, they weren’t obtained illegally… but they were obtained immorally,” adding: “Every time there is an enquiry, the industry says it will changed, but what about three or five years down the line when standards start to slip. That’s why you need statutory underpinning of press regulation”.
However, Church’s ire was reserved for an elderly female audience member, who tried to draw a line between press persecution of the ordinary people, such as the family of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler, and Charlotte Church the “celebrity”.
"Many celebrities get what they ask for," said the woman in yellow.
“When my mother was blackmailed by the News of the World… into giving a tell-all about her self harming and all of her issues, the News of the World thought that was ok," replied Church, sharply. "There were also many people around me, whose phones were hacked, including our parish priest. That has nothing to do with my public persona or me being a celebrity’ said the singer.
“Maybe a strong person could have weathered that storm,” responded the audience member, refering to Church's mother. The comment drew gasps from around the room, and a shaking of the head from Church.
The singer finished with an impassioned plea for freedom of the press, likening social networking and “the use of Twitter”, to the original definition of “freedom of the press”.