30/05/2012 10:55 BST

Ken Clarke Claims The Press Is More Powerful Than Parliament

The power of the press is now far greater than the power of parliament, Ken Clarke has said.

Giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry on Wednesday, the justice secretary said he had observed over his 40 years in politics that the media had become increasingly influential and personal.

He said that the press could now "drive a weak government like a flock of sheep before them" in some areas of policy as "ministers are fearful of the media's reaction".

"It is fear of the media reporting, fear of media reaction, that causes people to be over influenced by media campaigning," he said.

Clarke's comments came in a week when the government had announced four U-turns including on the pasty tax and secret justice. Two policy reversals claimed by The Sun and the Daily Mail to be down to their reporting.

"Policy making is almost overwhelming influenced by PR people on each side," he said. "The power of the press is now far greater than the power of parliament."

Clarke also said that while in the past senior politicians could be confident that journalists would not report on their personal lives and extra-marital affairs, this was no longer the case.

"I don't know how long the prime minister would stay in offer once the first jouranlist produced the story, it wouldn't be more than two or three days," he said.

And he said the reporting of politics was now part of the "celebrity culture" in Britain which has "as one of its branches the govenremnt and politics of the country".

"A lot of people are driven away form potlicis by the fact they don't want to accept the level of exposure, I suspect that's true of professional sport," he added.