'Press regulation should err on side of freedom'
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 the BBC.
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"We will have to do that, but in my case, from the philosophical viewpoint that you have to err on the side of freedom."
Downing Street said Mr Cameron was keeping an open mind and would make no decisions before he has seen the report arising from the Leveson Inquiry set up in the wake of last year's phone-hacking scandal.
The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported that the Prime Minister would back a new, tougher model of self-regulation to replace the Press Complaints Commission, but with the threat that a statutory system could be brought in later if matters do not improve.
Number 10 played down any suggestion that the Prime Minister had already made up his mind.
"The Prime Minister is open-minded about Lord Justice Leveson's report and will read it in full before he makes any decision," a spokesman said.
Mr Cameron and some other senior government figures will have access to it on Wednesday.