FT editor warns press of political ‘retribution’

Financial Times editor Lionel Barber has warned Britain’s newspapers that they face political “retribution” in the form of statutory regulation following the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Speaking at the Hugh Cudlipp memorial lecture, he said the tabloid’s publisher, News International, would have been better served pursuing an “own up rather than cover up” policy and accused the bulk of the British press of failing to “take the issue seriously”, despite it being a “watershed” moment for News International and tabloid journalism.

He said the British media, “aside from the lead taken by the Guardian, which was followed by the FT, BBC and Independent”, had taken “a pass on the News of the World phone-hacking story – almost certainly because they too were involved in similar practices”. It amounted to, he said, a “conspiracy of silence [that] ruled Fleet Street”.

He said MPs were “itching to retaliate” against the media in the wake of the expenses scandal, placing mainstream media “at risk of retribution in the form of statutory regulation”.

Barber claimed the “increasingly intertwined” relationship between MPs and the media “does not serve the interest of either”.

He added: “The suspicion must remain that News Corporation [the parent company of News International] assumed that it enjoyed enough power and influence in Britain to make the phone hacking controversy go away.”

(Source: MediaGuardian)

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