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Hacked Off supporter John Cleese points finger at ‘lying’ and ‘right-wing’ UK press in decision to leave Britain for the Caribbean

By Sam Forsdick

Monty Python star John Cleese has said he is going to leave the UK because of the “lying and the triviality” of British newspapers.

The comedian, perhaps best known for his role as Basil Fawlty in British TV sitcom Fawlty Towers, made the claim on BBC Newsnight earlier this week.

He told presenter Emily Maitlis: “I’m leaving in November and making arrangements now. I’m so disappointed with so much about this country at the moment.”

He added: “My particular beef is with the newspapers.”

Cleese has been openly critical of the press, presenting the inaugural “Bad Press Awards” and fronting videos for Hacked Off, who campaign for stricter regulation of the press and have called for Leveson Two to go ahead.

MPs voted against continuing with the second part of the inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press in May.

Cleese said: “I put my shoulder to the wheel on proportional representation and then on Leveson Two and when they were both kicked out by a right-wing government, I thought alright, I give up, I’ll try somewhere else.”

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Cleese had been an advocate for proportional representation when Britain was polled in 2011 about changes to the way MPs were elected, known as the Alternative Vote referendum. The UK rejected changing its voting system.

Cleese told Newsnight: “The right-wing press lined up against [proportional representation] and people who didn’t really understand it were convinced by their arguments.”

He added: “The Daily Mail would describe this as an extraordinary outburst but I want to share something with you that is really rather factual.

“The European Union, every year asks a thousand people in 30 different countries what their trust level is in the printed media in those countries.”

He pointed to research by the European Broadcasting Union, which interviewed 1,000 people from 33 European countries on the level of trust they had in the media within their own countries.

The results found that the UK written press was the least trusted in Europe.

Maitlis said: “What you missed is, one of the most trusted written press countries is Albania, which comes in second, so perhaps there is a correlation between the kind of press which is robust and creates a certain level of curiosity and cynicism.”

In response Cleese laughed and said: “It’s the lying and the triviality that I object to. For four years we’ve had the least trusted press in Europe.”

Maitlis added: “But least trusted doesn’t necessarily mean not true.”

The comedy actor confirmed that he will be going to the island of Nevis in the Caribbean where he spent two months at the start of the year.

“The Nevis newspaper is very good, it’s about this big,” he said, gesturing a tiny square.

Watch the full interview here.

Picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

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