By Peter Hoskin
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of the release of the Leveson report tomorrow, various MPs and peers are rushing
to speak out against state regulation of the press. Both David Davis and
Dominic Raab have articles defending press freedom in the newspapers today, but
more eye-catching still is the letter — organised by Conor Burns and David
Blunkett — that has been sent to the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian by 86
parliamentarians from all three major parties. In it, they argue against “the imposition of any form of statutory
control even if it is dressed up as underpinning.”

I have pasted the
full letter below, as well as the list of all its signatories. There are 42
Tories in total, including Liam Fox, Graham Brady, Lord Coe and John

the publication of the Leveson Report on Thursday it is clear that the central
issue will be whether the press should, for the first time, be subjected to
statutory regulation or have the opportunity to put in place a new system of
binding self-regulation.

As Parliamentarians, we believe in free speech and are
opposed to the imposition of any form of statutory control even if it is
dressed up as underpinning. It is redress that is vital not broader regulation.

The prospect of drafting legislation may have the dual
benefit of exposing the dangers of the statutory regulation and at the same
time focus the minds of those seeking to further strengthen the existing tough
independent proposals.

No form of statutory regulation of the press would be
possible without the imposition of state licensing – abolished in Britain in
1695. State licensing is inimical to any idea of press freedom and would
radically alter the balance of our unwritten constitution.

There are also serious concerns that statutory regulation
of the print media may shift the balance to the digital platforms which, as
recent events have shown through the fiasco of Newsnight broadcast prompted by
Twitter, would further undermine the position of properly moderated and edited
print journalism.

The press abuse chronicled at Leveson was almost wholly
about actions which were against the law. It demonstrated not a sole failure of
regulation but rather of law enforcement.

However the status quo is not an option. We cannot
countenance newspapers behaving as some have in the past. The solution is not
new laws but a profound restructuring of the self-regulatory system.

Lords Hunt and Black have come forward with a detailed
proposal for a much improved, genuinely independent regulator with the power to
intervene proactively, to levy substantial fines, and to enforce membership for
the first time through a system of civil contracts. They need to deliver on
this promised reform.

We agree with the report of the Joint Parliamentary
Committee which came out against any form of statutory regulation – not least
because of the signal it would send to emerging democracies around the world.

Public debate will necessarily follow publication of the
Leveson report and will be needed to provide confidence in a rigorous tough new
system of self-regulation. Such a debate will lead to a speedy way of
establishing a new self-regulatory regime that can restore confidence in the

David Blunkett

Conor Burns

Stuart Andrew

Steve Baker

Lord Bell

Bob Blackman

Nick de Bois

Baroness Boothroyd

Peter Bottomley

Peter Bone

Graham Brady

Angie Bray

Julian Brazier

Andrew Bridgen

Alun Cairns

Baroness Chalker

Bill Cash

Douglas Carswell

Lord Cavendish

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Therese Coffey

Damian Collins

Earl Courtown

Tracey Crouch

David Davis

Glyn Davies

Philip Davies

Lord Dobbs

Brian Donohoe

Stephen Dorrell

Lord Eden

Lord Fellowes

Liam Fox

Frank Field

Lord Flight

Lord Forsyth

Mike Freer

Lord Glentoran

James Gray

Robert Halfon

John Hemming

Gordon Henderson

Kate Hoey

George Hollingbery

Lord Howell of Guildford

Margot James

Eleanor Laing

Phillip Lee

Peter Lilley

Pauline Latham

Julian Lewis

Karen Lumley

Jason McCartney

Karl McCartney

Stephen McPartland

Baroness Morris

David Morris

Stephen Mosley

Baroness Neville-Jones

Brooks Newmark

Lord Norton

Mark Pawsey

Christopher Pincher

Mark Reckless

John Redwood

Lord Renton

Lord Risby

Baroness Shephard

Lord Skelmersdale

Graham Stringer

Julian Smith

Gisela Stuart

Graham Stuart

Lord Swinfen

Justin Tomlinson

Lord Trimble

The Lord True

Andrew Turner

Martin Vickers

Lord Wakeham

Heather Wheeler

John Whittingdale

Sarah Wollasto

Tim Yeo

Lord Coe

Lord Tebbit

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