A judge called on Thursday for legislation to underpin a new regulator for Britain’s “outrageous” newspapers in a dramatic move that threatens to divide Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government.
Lord Justice Brian Leveson, who led an eight-month inquiry following the phone-hacking scandal that closed down Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, also criticised politicians for getting “too close” to the press.
His eagerly awaited report called for legislation for a new independent self-regulatory body underpinned by law, saying that misbehaviour by the British press had undermined its own arguments that it works in the public interest.
“There have been too many times when, chasing the story, parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote, simply did not exist,” Leveson said in a statement.
He said that not only famous people but also ordinary members of the public had often tragic events “made much, much worse by press behaviour that, at times, can only be described as outrageous.”
Cameron personally set up the Leveson Inquiry and will come under pressure to follow its recommendations.
The British press currently regulates itself through the Press Complaints Commission, a body staffed by editors which critics say is toothless.
The prime minister set up the Leveson Inquiry in July 2011 in the wake of revelations that the News of the World had hacked the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler as well as dozens of public figures.
Murdoch was forced to shut down the 168-year-old newspaper over the scandal.