Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, is giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry this afternoon.
Dacre is the longest-serving editor on Fleet Street, he began as editor of the Daily Mail in 1992. He is also chairman of the PCC editors' code of conduct committee.
The evidence began with Dacre insisting that he does not imprint his own opinions and world-view on the newspaper, saying "do you think I tell Max Hastings, Janet Street Porter, Craig Brown and others what to write?" He says that his "brilliant writers" would leave if he insisted his values permeate the newspaper.
When asked about privacy Dacre says that some celebrities "intrude into their own lives" by selling details about their private life. During questioning on privacy he asked to read out some words of Tim Luckhurst, journalism professor at Kent University:
The notion that moral failures such as adultery are entirely private and do not matter to the wider world is an affront to the very idea of community.
A taste for titillation must explain some people's interest in Ryan Giggs's alleged extramarital activities. But for many others, cheap thrills were the last thing on their mind when they rebelled against privacy injunctions and remote, arrogant judges.
This admirable majority resent public figures who think they can turn publicity on and off like a tap.
We reserve the right to scrutinise and censure the conduct of people who have grown rich on our wages or claim authority over our lives. And, in asserting democratic accountability, we are proclaiming our loyalty to a virtuous principle.
In the 18th and 19th Centuries, British philosophers developed a concept called the 'sanction of public opinion'.
They concluded that popular morality should not ban infidelity or imprison men for betraying their wives, but it could create an incentive to behave responsibly. People tempted to stray might be persuaded to think again by the certainty that their friends and neighbours would think less of them.
Dacre says that the PCC has changed the very culture of Fleet Street, and that the Press is vastly better behaved and disciplined now, than in the 1970s.
In terms of changes that need to be made Dacre tells Leveson "there's a problem with paparazzi that we need to look at".
When asked about future regulation, Dacre agrees with Lord Hunt's idea for contracts to lock newspapers into the new regulatory body. He believes that the issuing of press cards should be much more strict, the press card should act as proof that they are responsible journalists, press cards cancelled if malpractice is uncovered.
"Public interest" is too loose in the code, Dacre suggests that an inquiry should be set up to produce a definition of public interest that all newspapers must subscribe to. He suggests polls of public opinion to aid a new definition.
When asked about the use of private investigators Dacre says that his journalists believed they were acting within the law, using Whittamore to obtain telephone numbers and addresses to check news stories only. Dacre says his managing editors told him this. He then went to speak to the counsel for Associated Newspapers.
Dacre does not appear happy with the evidence, and the questions that he has been asked. "You have painted a very bleak picture of the Daily Mail," Dacre says, adding that the examples raised by Jay are minimal and that Daily Mail readers enjoy and support the paper. "You presented a somewhat one-sided picture of the Mail."
Dacre concludes his evidence today saying that the way that the inquiry has been conducted has given the public a "bleak one-sided view of the press that isn't fair and isn't true".
The Media Standards Trust and the Hacked Off campaign released this statement during Dacre's evidence:
'The Hacked Off campaign and the Media Standards Trust categorically refute Paul Dacre’s baseless accusations that we have “attempted to hijack” the Leveson Inquiry by somehow putting pressure on Hugh Grant, a supporter of the Hacked Off campaign, to “wound” Associated Newspapers at the time Mr Grant gave oral evidence to the Inquiry.'