The Great Debate UK

Don’t confuse good journalism with the grubby


john_kampfner- John Kampfner is chief executive of Index on Censorship and former editor of the New Statesman. His new book, “Freedom for Sale”, will be published by Simon and Schuster in September. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The news could not have come at a worse time for free speech campaigners. Revelations that private detectives have been paid large sums by the tabloid press to hack into the mobile phones and other records of public figures will cause damage to the newspaper at the heart of the practice, the “News of the World”.

It will not enhance the credibility of its former Editor, Andy Coulson, now David Cameron’s trusted Director of Communications at the Conservative Party.

But the consequences are far more important than the future of a tabloid and a spin doctor. The scandal – for it is a scandal – has unleashed a further bout of yelping from the “something must be done” brigade, the people in public life who argue that the media has long been “out of control”.