latest music news
PM went to 'great lengths' over NI
David Cameron went to "great lengths" to woo Rupert Murdoch's News International (NI) newspaper empire prior to the last general election, Lord Justice Leveson has said.
The judge said the Prime Minister's closeness to senior NI executives like Rebekah Brooks had created a problem of "public perception", although he accepted there was no "deal" of newspaper support for the expectation of policy favours.
Nevertheless he said the Prime Minister had been right to accept that politicians had "got too close to the media" and that the relationship needed to be set on a "better footing".
"The problem is public perception. This section of the report has dealt with too many issues where the public, not knowing any more than it has (or, I might say, than what it reads in the newspapers), has been entitled to worry about the way things have been done and what has been going on," he said.
"A way of conducting relationships with the media which leads to a situation in which a public inquiry is needed to take an objective, not to say forensic, look at the matter in order to reassure the public cannot be considered as satisfactory or itself in the public interest."
He said Mr Cameron's media strategy when the Conservatives were in opposition had succeeded in winning the support of the centre right press and NI, although its impact on the 2010 general election should not be overestimated.
"The circumstances in which Rupert Murdoch and his close advisers decided to endorse Mr Cameron are complex," he said.
"Mr Cameron went to great lengths to secure meetings face-to-face with Mr Murdoch and other News International executives and editors.
"The benefits of this may have played some part in the outcome but should not be overestimated.
"The evidence does not, of course, establish anything resembling a 'deal' whereby News International's support was traded for the expectation of policy favours."
He called on all the party leaders to consider publishing statements explaining publicly how they intended to conduct relationships with the press in future.
This could include declarations of long-term relationships with media proprietors and newspaper editors, and quarterly reports detailing their meetings with senior media figures as well as a "general estimate" of the volume of letters, phone calls, texts and emails.