POLITICS

Michael Gove 'Uncomfortable' With Royal Charter Press Regulation

22/03/2013 10:15 GMT | Updated 25/03/2013 19:02 GMT

Michael Gove has indicated he is unhappy with the proposals to regulate the press and said he only voted in favour of the plan as he felt he had to as a loyal member of the government.

Appearing on the BBC's Question Time last night, the education secretary, a former journalist for The Times, said "the free press is one of the historic strengths of this country" and warned against political control.

On Monday David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg struck a late night deal to introduce a royal charter to oversee the press in the wake of the Leveson inquiry.

Asked why he voted in favour of the plan earlier this week if he did not like it, Gove said: "I'm a member of the government, I believe David Cameron secured the best deal in the circumstances."

He added: "I'm uncomfortable about politicians themselves deciding how the press should be regulated."

Gove famously gave a combative performance at the Leveson inquiry where he stood up for the freedom of the press.

He also warned that there was "a chilling atmosphere towards freedom of expression which emanates from the debate around Leveson".

Last night he said there was a danger of "driving to the margins the organs of free expression that hold power to account".

"I know there are lot of politicians who think the press sould be tamed, but it is more important politicians fear proper scrutiny than the press fear politicians regulating them," he said.

"I don’t believe this situation is perfect but I do believe that what was being proposed by other parties, for sincere reasons, that David Cameron managed to secure the best deal available.

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"My view is a minority in the House of Commons, the majority of people wanted regulation' wanted to have essentially political control through statute of the press."

Gove also batted away suggestions he may one day want to lead the Conservative Party. "The one thing I do know having seen David Cameron up close is it takes extraordinary reserves of patience of judgement of character to lead this country and he has it and I don’t and I think it's important to recognise in life you’ve reached an appropriate point," he said.

In a reference to speculation host David Dimbleby had been keen on taking one of the top jobs in broadcasting, Gove added: "There are some us who could be director gerneal of the BBC, there are some of us who could be prime minister, there are others of us who should know their place."