Your editorial (No cause for hyperventilating, 18 March) doubts that “John Milton will be spinning in his grave” over current rows about press freedom. Of course he isn’t: he was Cromwell’s censor. In the Areopagitica, the great phrase is “as good almost kill a man as kill a good book”. The crucial adjective is “good”, and he was quite happy to determine what could be so described and burn the rest.
The turning corpse we should be worrying about is Sir Roger L’Estrange, the last statutory censor of the press – “Surveyor of the Imprimie”. He must be cheering. A fervent royalist, L’Estrange believed “it is the Press that has made ‘um Mad, and the Press must set ‘um Right again” and was therefore also licensed to be a monopolistic news publisher. So, if we are turning back the clock, how long before we do it properly and appoint Rupert Murdoch (or his front-person) by royal charter “Surveyor of the Media”?
University of Lincoln
• Implementing the Leveson proposals is not an issue of whether we have a “free” or a “shackled” press. The papers that are complaining are privately owned, and the notion that they are edited without any influence from the companies that own them is for the birds. Nor is there any proposal to shackle them: it is simply to do what self-regulation has repeatedly failed to do and set out a framework that will require them to behave responsibly.
Claims that the terms proposed would have prevented the Daily Mail’s challenge to those it accused of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, or the Daily Telegraph’s exposé of the expenses scandal are disingenuous: neither would have been realistically threatened. On the other hand, the Sun might well have taken the trouble to investigate its assertions about the victims of the Hillsborough disaster more carefully.
Baildon, West Yorkshire
• Those of us who watched the Leveson inquiry day after day were satisfied when the politicians admitted that they had been too close to the owners and editors of newspapers. It was agreed there would have to be changes. Then, after the publication of the inquiry report, one of the most open examinations of public life, politicians and the newspapers went private. Both having been found guilty, they were left to decide away from the public gaze what part of the sentence suited them.
• Why all this talk about newspapers opting into regulation or failing to opt in (Newspaper groups threaten boycott if Tories back down over press regulator, 18 March)? We can’t opt out of regulations about how we drive our motor cars just because we think we ought to be able to drive faster or reckon it costs too much to insure them.
• May I thank the Lib Dems for standing firm and sticking to principle to help force David Cameron to do what is right for once, rather than what is politically expedient for the Conservatives and their puppet masters?