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Reporters defend tabloids at UK media inquiry

JILL LAWLESS AP 01/10/2012 20:36
Reporters defend tabloids at UK media inquiry - journalism

Reporters and editors from Britain's Sun tabloid painted their newspaper as a moral paragon Monday, saying accuracy was paramount and privacy always a consideration, while the paper's legal counsel insisted he had seen no evidence of phone hacking.

Lawyer Justin Walford, counsel to Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers, told Britain's media ethics inquiry that he would be surprised and shocked to learn that The Sun was guilty of illegal eavesdropping like its now-defunct sister paper, the News of the World.

"I've never seen anything at The Sun which has made me think that it has been happening," Walford said.

The phone-hacking scandal has engulfed the News of the World - shut down by Murdoch in July - but some alleged victims have accused other newspapers of wrongdoing, too. The Sun, Britain's best-selling newspaper, faces a lawsuit from actor Jude Law for allegedly listening to his voice mails.

The Sun's current editor, Dominic Mohan, said in a written statement to the inquiry that he had "always been determined to foster a culture of honesty, integrity and high ethical standards at the Sun." Showbiz editor Gordon Smart said Sun staff "act ethically and we act responsibly at all times."

But an outspoken former Sun editor said standards had been looser in his day.

Kelvin MacKenzie, who ran the newspaper between 1981 and 1994, said he never considered privacy, and stood by his earlier description of his fact-checking policy as "if it sounded right, it was probably right and therefore we should lob it in."

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