A free press is vital if we 
are to remain a democracy

There has been a huge amount of discussion surrounding the long-awaited publication of Lord Leveson’s findings, which are out today.

Many expect him to recommend MPs introduce a law calling for the statutory regulation of the press.

In Scotland, regulation of the print media falls under the control of Holyrood, and First Minister Alex Salmond has already said he is against state regulation. And the public agree.

In a survey on behalf of the Free Speech Network, seven out of 10 people surveyed (see page 8) said there is no need for state regulation of the press. Two thirds are proud of Britain’s standing in the world as a model of press freedom and free speech.

While the majority of the press adhere to the current system of self-regulation, many would agree that it is not working as it should. However, we do not believe a state-controlled press is the answer. Rather, the solution lies in a stronger self-governance of the industry.

The regional press plays a vital role within its communities.

As the editor of such a newspaper, I am proud to work for a paper that is held in high regard by you, its readers. We value the trust you place in us and we take our responsibilities very seriously. The responsibility to report honestly, to publish articles that are balanced and fair. To fight for what is right, and hold those in public office to account.

Many people turn to us to help them when no-one else will. 
One of the most notable examples of investigative journalism by this paper was the shocking case of Miss X.

Were the Government to introduce statutory regulations, it could effectively discourage, deter and restrict investigative journalism that is in the public interest. And it would then be a short step to Government censoring what can be reported. Our standing as country where freedom of speech and democracy is something to be valued would be in tatters.

It’s vitally important that we do not let that happen.