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Press Release

Press Releases

ITV1's The Agenda: Boris Johnson on the BBC and press regulation

ITV press release

Boris Johnson says on tonight's programme that he supports independent regulation of the press and that Lord Patten should keep his job, while fellow guest Hugh Grant says the difference between the press and the BBC is that the BBC apologises and takes action while the newspapers don't. Hugh Grant also confesses that his 'secret fantasy' is to be on Strictly Come Dancing.

Speaking as one of the guests on The Agenda with Tom Bradby to be broadcast on ITV1 at 10.35pm tonight, Boris Johnson said:

"It's very sad to see the BBC go through turmoil... I see no particular reason why Chris Patten should go... I think you need him there to steady the ship. But it's perfectly obvious that they had an absolutely catastrophic breakdown of journalistic standards. First of all they ignored the Savile scoop which they were sitting on and it seems like they had quite a lot of evidence and then they had this crazy switching the steering wheel in the other direction and going for some 'top Tory paedo' without any real evidence. It was absolutely disastrous and I'd like to see a wholesale massacre of everybody involved professionally speaking."

On the Newsnight McAlpine report, Hugh Grant added:

"Clearly it was an enormous cock-up and a terrible thing to have done in my opinion. What interests me is the difference in the reaction of the BBC to this cock-up in the sense that everyone starts resigning - the Director-General resigns, people are stood down or stood aside, editors everywhere committing suicide. And if you contrast that with the way for instance the newspapers slandered the McCanns or they slandered Christopher Jeffries... there was no resignations, there was no recriminations, there was no firings, there was no discipline anywhere."

Asked what he thought would come of the Leveson Inquiry, Hugh Grant replied:

"It won't be statutory regulation whatever happens. You have to get that idea out of your head. No-one wants that, no-one's ever wanted that. An independent regulator, independent of the industry, and independent of Government is what we're after.

Boris Johnson added:

"I expect that Lord Leveson will have to come up with - he's been at it so long - he'll probably have to come up with something of the kind that Hugh describes. If it leads to political control or legislative control of the media then I think it would be a great shame for this country... Obviously we want the excesses of the press to be curbed but one of the reasons on the whole that we have a political system that is by and large free from corruption is that we have exuberant, occasionally vicious media... I do think that the old PCC was hopeless and you do need more independence."

Discussing Nadine Dorries, Hugh Grant was asked if he would go on I'm a Celebrity, and hinted he'd prefer Strictly Come Dancing:

"It probably isn't the most dignified thing you can do as an MP. I've always wanted to be on the dancing one myself. That's my secret fantasy. That's out of the bag."

Asked whether he would ever run as a politician, Hugh Grant said:

"No. Rather like as an actor I can only play one role, in politics I can only rant about one issue really. I don't have any other beliefs that hold steady for long."

Other guests on tonight’s programme are historian Kate Williams and singer-songwriter Jamelia. Topics discussed are the BBC; the Leveson Inquiry; and Nadine Dorries’ appearance on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity.

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