‘A much valued and important part of press’

A picture taken inside the Decathlon store at Portsmouth Retail park. Credit: Decathlon UK

New Decathlon store in Portsmouth will open tomorrow – a week early

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I hope that Local Newspaper Week reminds everybody of the vital role local newspapers play.

Millions gain information, enjoyment, and entertainment from their local press.

I have often remarked that local newspapers perform to a gold standard and the quality of reporting, comment and production in local newspapers is very high.

A free and vibrant local press is intrinsic to a free society.

As we look to now construct a new independent, effective and robust press regulatory structure we should remember the already high standards of local news reporting and resolve to ensure the new structure allows that work to continue to flourish.

Let us never tire of reminding the world that the local and regional press have never been remotely implicated in the criminal acts that led to the establishment of the Leveson Inquiry.

Indeed, Sir Brian Leveson himself described local newspapers as a ‘much valued and important part of the British press... local, high-quality and trusted newspapers are good for our communities, our identity and our democracy and play an important social role’.

He also expressed a strong view that, ‘it is common ground that, in order to be effective, any new system of press standards should cover all the national newspapers and at least the main magazines and regional and local newspapers’, adding that the model he proposed ‘should not provide an added burden to the regional and local press’.

I agree with him and, fear not, I have your interests at heart and I will defend them with all my might.