News of the World editor Colin Myler has warned that the introduction of a privacy law through the back door is ‘strangling the media by stealth’.
Myler, whose paper paid £60,000 in damages to motorsport boss Max Mosley earlier this year for invasion of privacy, was guest of honour at the Liverpool Press Club president’s annual Christmas lunch.
The event, attended by more than 160 journalists and guests, marked the 125th anniversary of the club, which was founded in 1883.
Myler told the audience: ”We are far from blameless in where we find ourselves. But the insidious way in which a privacy law is being imposed on the British press through the back door is shameful.
”There is little or no debate through our elected MPs in Parliament, only edicts from the benches of the High Courts in London fed by human rights judges in Strasbourg who are, in any case, unfriendly to freedom of expression.”
Myler criticised the privacy injunction threats ”which fly in on a daily basis’and added: ”Our media are being strangled by stealth.’
”There’s no mistaking the difficult times our industry finds itself in,’he said. ”Many young people don’t feel the need or desire to buy and engage in newspapers any more.
“The fragmentation of our business is breathtaking. We have multi-platform hubs servicing print, podcasts, online and video.
”When some of us here were learning our craft, reporters carried a pen, a notebook and, much later on, a mobile if you were lucky.
‘Today it’s a laptop, video camera or a mobile that fills 24/7 news bulletins with dramatic moving pictures in what has become a digital explosion.”
Myler said that, despite the economic downturn, he firmly believed that newspapers still had a strong future.
“Some will struggle to survive but, as an industry, we really do have to be more positive and not allow those so-called media experts and commentators to tell us how badly we are doing,” he said.
”We have to embrace the seismic changes we are going through and harness our great skills and talents to reach our audiences in the form they want to access, whether in print or digitally.”