‘Press is the main thing holding politicians to account’ – journalist

As tension over the shocking phone-hacking scandal is rising in the UK, more calls for media regulation are arising. Journalist Andrew Gilligan, however, warns against limiting the freedom of the press.

Gilligan, the Telegraph's London editor, says people have a right to express opinions, and regulating the media would affect not only the “rotten journalism,” but also the “good journalism” as well.

Sometime journalists do need to do things which aren’t actually whiter than white to get stories in the public interest,” he said, warning that it would be much harder to report important stories if more regulations are imposed on the media.

Referring to the unfolding scandal enveloping Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, Gilligan declared that it was not a failure of press regulation.

It was the failure of parts of the press, of individual journalists and editors… And it was failure of the police to enforce the law,” he stated.

Gilligan underlined the importance of media as a tool to keep politicians in check.

The press is the main thing in this county that holds politicians to account,” he said. “It is more effective than the parliament; it’s more effective than the courts. It’s the thing politicians are worrying about in Britain.”

The death of Sean Hoare, the former News of the World journalist who was the first Murdoch employee to go on record about the alleged phone hacking, has brought more uncertainty to the case. But Gilligan does not believe he was murdered.

He pointed out that it would not have been in anybody’s interest to kill Hoare, as he had already been thrust into the public spotlight.

Hoare had been under enormous pressure since becoming a whistleblower, and he found it difficult to cope with, Gilligan says. The former News of the World journalist had also admitted that he had problems with drinking and drugs.

He was a tremendously brave man to blow the whistle on what was going on with the News of the World,” Gilligan said.