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Hugh Grant: Press needs outside watchdog

Nov. 1, 2012 at 5:47 PM

LONDON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Movie star Hugh Grant says the British press appears incapable of regulating itself and needs a new watchdog agency.

Grant supports the Hacked Off campaign, The Guardian reported. He says the campaign is not out to muzzle real reporting.

The British news media came under renewed scrutiny after The Guardian reported that the now-defunct Sunday tabloid News of the World hacked into the cellphone of a missing schoolgirl a decade ago, an action that led her parents to believe she was still alive.

"What I campaign for is only this: That the press should obey the law and comply consistently with a fair and decent code of practice," Grant said in The Spectator magazine. "If we detected even a bat's squeak of genuine threat to public interest journalism we would pack it in. In fact, we also campaign for public interest defenses in law for journalists in libel, bribery and other cases. We want more investigative journalism, not less. We want journalists to be free to speak their minds, unconstrained by their corporate masters. That's why we share platforms with the NUJ," referring to the National Union of Journalists.

Two former BBC news directors, in a letter published in the Financial Times, took the same position, saying a new regulatory body formed of news executives would simply be a rebirth of the Press Commission.

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