27/02/2012 06:21 GMT | Updated 27/02/2012 07:26 GMT

Lord Leveson Slams 'Troubling' Criticism Of Phone Hacking Inquiry

Lord Justice Leveson has hit out at "publicly expressed concerns" that the inquiry into media ethics that he chairs risks impinging on the freedom of the press.

Speaking at the inquiry on Monday morning, Leveson said he was "happy to yet again reassert my commitment to free press and press freedom".

"I have no wish to be the arbiter of what a free press should be or look like. I have no interest on doing so," he said.

"To publicly express concern about the existence of the inquiry when it is following its terms of reference is itself somewhat troubling.

"I do not believe the inquiry is, or was, premature. I intend to continue to do neither more nor less than is required of me."

Last week education secretary Michael Gove said the inquiry risked creating a "chilling atmosphere", which threatened the diversity and freedom of the British press.

The former Times journalist said such inquiries could "create cures worse than the original disease", involving setting up of knee-jerk quangos and "law-making entities", which made matters worse.

He questioned whether the Leveson inquiry was really necessary, saying that most of the behaviour by journalists, which caused it to be set up, could have been handled by existing laws.

Leveson said that press freedom did not "obliterate or tramp on other rights" especially the "operation of the rule of law for all".

His comments came as the inquiry moved on to investigate the links between the press and the police. Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott and ex-Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick are expected to voice concerns that some officers have become too close to newspaper reporters and executives.