Ipswich Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover wrote to the Prime Minister on Wednesday urging him not to use what he called a “condemnatory catch-all” for newspapers in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
It brought a swift reply from Mr Cameron’s office in which he contrasted the “appalling, shocking and disgusting” allegations against the NoTW with the “excellent work” done by local newspapers.
The Prime Minister’s response, which is published in today’s Evening Star, came as Labour leader Ed Miliband called for the scrapping of the Press Complaints Commission, which he branded a “toothless poodle.”
Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: “I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister who has said, these are appalling, shocking and disgusting allegations.
“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.”
Meanwhile a weekly newspaper editor whose patch borders Soham has appeared on a BBC programme to defend regional journalism amid the continuing fallout from the phone-hacking scandal.
Cambridgeshire Times editor John Elworthy appeared on the BBC’s Look East programme following allegations that the News of the World had hacked into mobile phones belonging to families of murdered Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
Speaking on the show he said he was ‘ashamed’ of what was masquarading as journalism in ‘that place we lovingly used to call Fleet Street,’ adding that he didn’t think that young journalists would be looking at the red tops in the same light following the scandal.
The interview was recorded before yesterday’s shock decision by Murdoch to axe the red-top after 168 years of publication.
When asked by the presenter if he was ashamed of journalism, John replied: “I’m not ashamed of anything done in these provinces and certainly not in this patch and by the company and newspaper and the traditional values I represent.
He went on to say that local newspapers were used to Fleet Street coming into and kicking local communities around but this was ‘a whole new level.’
“It’s unbelievable to believe that people were sitting in their offices in Fleet Street not knowing what there colleagues were up to,” said John.
“Journalists were doing nothing while colleagues were involved in illicit practices.”