The chairman of the ongoing inquiry into press ethics has flatly rejected calls for the regional press to be represented on the panel.
Lord Justice Leveson has faced critcisms for failing to include any representatives of either the regional or the tabloid press in his team of assessors.
An application by Associated Newspapers to add further representatives to the panel was supported by Trinity Mirror, the Newspaper Publishers’ Association and Guardian News and Media.
But in a written judgement yesterday, Lord Justice Leveson said he did not need any more assessors and that the regional press and other interested groups would have “every opportunity” to give evidence.
“I do not presently understand why the ethical approach that a journalist brings to his or her work should vary depending upon whether that journalist is employed by a broadsheet, mid-market or tabloid newspaper,” he said.
“Neither do I immediately see why there should be a different approach to the concept of public interest – the public embraces readers of each type of newspaper to which I have referred.
“The tabloid press, the mid-market press, the regional press, those involved in news-gathering, politicians, victims and many other interested parties and individuals will be afforded every opportunity to provide me with that evidence, which will doubtless not be limited to fact and will include opinion, comment, advice and assistance.
“I have said on many occasions now that I will expect all parties to assist me as fully as possible in order to ensure that I am as fully informed as I can be. In those circumstances, and weighing up all these considerations, I do not consider it desirable at this stage to appoint any further assessors.”
The team of assessors includes two retired journalists – the former Channel 4 political editor Elinor Goodman and the former Daily Telegraph political editor George Jones.
The other members are Sir David Bell, former chairman of the Financial Times, Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights watchdog Liberty, Lord Currie, the former chairman of Ofcom, and Sir Paul Scott-Lee, former chief constable of West Midlands police.
Among those who have spoken up in favour of regional press representation on the panel are the media commentators Roy Greenslade and Ray Snoddy.