Examination of Witness (Question Numbers
28 APRIL 2009
Q740 Rosemary McKenna: They also
have enormous power.
Mr Hill: We have the laws of libel
which are the most severe in the world, we have the law of confidence
which is now being used extensively in matters, particularly by
celebrities, we have the law of privacy which is coming, we have
European law and we are pretty much up to our ears in law now.
We have the most stringent contempt of court laws which apply
to all matters in this country of any country. If you go to the
United States, they have what you could call a free press. We
do not have a free press in this country by any means; we have
a very, very shackled press in this country. Really you should
be looking at means of removing those shackles not imposing more
of them, which is what seems to me to be the tone of these discussions.
How can we make the press freer? How can we have a free press?
A free press is the only bastion that there really is in a democratic
society; there is nothing else.
Q741 Chairman: So part of the price
of a free press is that every now and again something like the
McCanns will happen.
Mr Hill: I do not think it will
happen again. No, I do not think that particular sort of thing
will happen again. I do not think so.
Q742 Paul Farrelly: On pre-notification,
when we asked Mr Dacre last week whether, had the Max Mosley story
fallen into his lap, the Daily Mail would have gone to
him for comment first, to paraphrase the answer he said that it
was not an issue because the Daily Mail would not have
run that story because it was a family newspaper. Do you find
that answer credible?
Mr Hill: Yes, that is totally
credible to me. It is not a story which I myself would have pursued.
I would not have pursued that story because that is not the sort
of story that we use in our newspaper.
Q743 Paul Farrelly: Had that story
been offered to you at an acceptable price you would not have
Mr Hill: I would not have wanted
the story. I just would not have wanted that story. It just would
not have been the sort of story which would have appealed to me
or my readers. It was not the right sort of story. For the market
the Daily Express and the Daily Mail are in it seems
to me not the right kind of story.
Q744 Paul Farrelly: There is another
family on whom you have reported, which is the Rothermeres, with
certain suggestions of Nazi sympathies, particularly with the
Daily Mail's coverage in the 1930s.
Mr Hill: Well they did support
the British Nazi Party. That is a matter of record.
Q745 Paul Farrelly: What would be
your response to the speculation that sometimes knocks around
the press with much mirth that there is a truce between proprietors,
Mr Desmond and the Rothermeres, which is sometimes broken but
now you seem to be abiding by it?
Mr Hill: What kind of truce?
Q746 Paul Farrelly: That the proprietors
of newspapers do not report on other proprietors or their families.
Mr Hill: There is not anything
to write about them, is there? They are not very interesting to
write about, are they?
Q747 Paul Farrelly: So there is nothing
Mr Hill: People do write about
Mr Desmond from time to time. I cannot remember a story about
Lord Rothermere which was of interest to anyone.
Q748 Paul Farrelly: So there is nothing
in this idle speculation about unwritten truces?
Mr Hill: I do not know what they
say to each other. I do not even know whether they speak to each
other. I have no idea. I am not privy to what Lord Rothermere
and Mr Desmond say.
Q749 Paul Farrelly: As an editor
you have never been asked by Mr Desmond to go and get a Rothermere
story for the paper when they described him as a pornographer?
Mr Hill: Absolutely not.
Q750 Paul Farrelly: There is no truth
in that; absolutely not?
Mr Hill: No, of course not; no.
Why would he do that? No, certainly not.
Chairman: I think that is all we have
for you. Thank you very much.