05/12/2011 11:10 GMT | Updated 05/12/2011 13:43 GMT

Zac Goldsmith Compares Tabloids To Nazis With Auschwitz Claim

Zac Goldsmith has stoked controversy by appearing to compare elements of the tabloid press to the Nazis.

Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee on the conduct of the press, the Richmond Park & North Kingston MP said newspapers which relied on murky activities to sustain their business did not deserve to survive.

Goldsmith was asked by Lord Black of Brentwood whether the commercial viability of publications should be a consideration when any press regulator judged the worthiness of an article.

The Tory MP, who has Jewish ancestry, said that if the only way a newspaper could make money was to engage in sinister or illegal practices then it would not deserve to survive.

"No one said Auschwitz should be kept open because it created jobs," he said.

Following the evidence session Goldsmith said on Twitter that he was not equating tabloids to concentration camps but acknowledged it was perhaps a mistake to invoke Auschwitz in such a way. "I could/should have made it citing something different," he said.

A Holocaust Educational Trust spokesperson said: "Zac Goldsmith has said that he could or should have cited a different example and we agree."

Goldsmith was appearing alongside Max Mosley, who successfully sued the News of the World after it wrongly claimed an "orgy" he took part in had a "Nazi theme". His father was Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists party in the 1930s.

Asked about whether a prominently placed apology for an invasion of privacy would help limit the damage done to reputations, Mosley said an apology after the fact was too late.

He said a front page apology from a newspaper that read "this was actually a private orgy" would not have helped much.

Goldsmith and Mosley were appearing as part of an all-star witness panel alongside Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan.

The four men were called to give evidence to the joint committee of privacy and injunctions as they have all been subject to substantial press attention given their high profile.

Recounting his run-ins with the press, Goldsmith said in one incident journalists shouted "is it true you are divorcing your wife" over the wall of his garden while he played with his children.

"Fortunately my children didn’t hear that," he said. "I was seized with uncontrollable physical rage which I had to control."

Grant told the MPs and peers that politicians had in the past "turned a blind eye" and "betrayed their duty" in doing something to tackle the excesses of the press out of "fear and intimidation".

"Governments have competed to be sycophantic to the perpetrators of these abuses," he said.

Goldsmith is not the first politician to have harsh words for Britain's tabloid journalists following the phone hacking scandal. In November Labour MP Tom Watson compared News International chairman James Murdoch to a "mafia boss".