Suffolk: Prime Minister backs role of regional press in hacking debate

SUFFOLK/WESTMINSTER: The Evening Star’s battling stance over the importance of the regional press was backed by Prime Minister David Cameron during the debate on phone hacking.

Mr Cameron was asked about the letter sent by Star editor Nigel Pickover by Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey.

She asked him about the importance of the regional press in bringing local news to people and also in campaigning on important issues for local communities.

Mr Cameron agreed that the regional press had an important role in the fabric of the country and repeated that it had not come under the microscope of the phone hacking inquiry.

Dr Coffey asked the Prime Minister: “Nigel Pickover, a constituent of mine, is editor of The Evening Star and recently wrote to the Prime Minister, and was grateful for his response.

“Is it not fair to say that local newspapers have not so far been implicated, that we should welcome their campaigns and local journalism, and that we should support the local press wherever they are?”

Mr Cameron replied: “They play a vital role in the health of our local democracy, our constituencies and what I call the big society.

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“Clearly, the inquiry has to go wherever the evidence leads and to all newspapers, but I think that regional and local newspapers play an important role in our country.”

Mr Pickover had written to Mr Cameron when the phone hacking controversy blew up earlier this month and the prime minister said “the press” needed to look at the way it operates.

The Star editor – a former president of Britain’s Society of Editors – wrote to the Prime Minister to point out that the kind of practices now being uncovered are not typical of journalism.

He also pointed out the scandal had come to light because of work done by other national newspaper journalists, especially those working for The Guardian.

Mr Pickover said: “I am sure that most of our readers, advertisers, and those who are in contact with us for whatever reason understand that a newspaper like The Evening Star with its roots deep in the community would never stoop to these kind of tactics.

“But it is important to make that clear when some commentators, and even some comments of the Prime Minister seemed to lumping all ‘the press’ together.”

Mr Cameron’s spokesman had contacted the Star saying: “He understands that everyone, including members of the press such as yourselves, will be revolted by what they have heard.

“The Prime Minister has made clear he is committed to establishing rigorous public inquiries to make sure this never happens in our country again.

“I would also like to reassure you that the Prime Minister absolutely recognises the important and vital role local newspapers play in their community and is fully supportive of the excellent work they do, campaigning for local people, strengthening our democracy and holding the powerful to account.”

n What do you think of the phone hack scandal? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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