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Kent MPs oppose statutory Press regulation ahead of Leveson report

Press freedom could be curtailed by statutory legislation in light of Leveson inquiry

Press freedom could be curtailed by statutory legislation

Five Kent MPs have put their names to a letter opposing the threat of statutory regulation of the Press.

The letter to the Guardian and Telegraph, signed by more than 80 MPs and peers, comes the day before Lord Justice Leveson delivers his report into the culture and ethics of the industry.

The Leveson Inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron in July last year following the phone hacking scandal that led to the closure of the News of the World.

The report is widely expected to recommend some form of statutory regulation of the Press, despite fears this will represent a threat to free speech.

The five Conservative Kent MPs who have signed the letter are Julian Brazier (Canterbury); Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe); Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford); Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) and Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood).

It states: "As parliamentarians, we believe in free speech and are opposed to the imposition of any form of statutory control.

"No form of statutory regulation of the press would be possible without the imposition of state licensing - abolished in Britain in 1695.

"State licensing is inimical to any idea of press freedom and would radically alter the balance of our unwritten constitution."

The signatories, including eight former cabinet ministers and London Olympics chairman Lord Coe, call for a tougher system of self-regulation as an alternative to a statutory regime.

The Prime Minster will receive a copy of the Leveson report today and it will be made public tomorrow afternoon.

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