25/11/2012 15:49 GMT

Boris Johnson Cautions Against Tougher Regulation Of The UK Press, Ahead Of Leveson

The UK should not be heading in the opposite direction to many countries with tougher media regulation, Boris Johnson said on Sunday ahead of Lord Justice Leveson's report in to Press standards.

The London Mayor said that at a time when developing nations such as India were allowing their Press greater freedoms, it was wrong to bring in statutory regulation of the Press.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live during a trip to India to promote London businesses, he said: "I am a bit nervous we are heading in the opposite direction to many other countries in the world which are liberating their Press and allowing free speech, and I think statutory regulation is not something that I would support.

"What are the attractions to London as an international investor? What makes it a great place to live? It's because you have a stable system where it is very largely uncorrupt.

"I can tell you that compared with most other jurisdictions in the world, we have a political system that is largely free of financial corruption and bribery.

"I think it is very largely because we have a pretty, uninhibited, vociferous and exuberant media that gets on and turns over all sorts of flat rocks.

"If you go around sterilising, pasteurising and homogenising the media you will have a bad effect on our democracy."

His comments came as William Hague said future regulation of the press should "err on the side of freedom", William Hague has warned, before Lord Justice Leveson's eagerly-anticipated reform proposals.

The Foreign Secretary said he was a "big supporter of press freedom" but stressed that he wanted to read the Leveson report before giving his verdict on it.

He dismissed suggestions that Prime Minister David Cameron had already made up his mind to reject state regulation, pointing out that "none of us" had yet seen Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations which are to be published on Thursday.

"Although I'm a big supporter of the freedom of the press, I'm also a big supporter of actually reading something before you pronounce on it," he told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.

"We will have to do that, but in my case, from the philosophical viewpoint that you have to err on the side of freedom."