• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

London Mayor Opposes U.K. Press Regulation Plans

Boris Johnson with Olympic torch - H 2012
Getty Images
London mayor Boris Johnson

"You either have a free press or you don’t," says Boris Johnson and shares how he and his family once imitated Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop" to play a trick on a reporter.

LONDON – London mayor Boris Johnson in a newspaper editorial on Monday spoke out against planned U.K. press regulation following the Leveson Inquiry report late last year.

"We are on the verge of eroding the freedom of the press," Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph. "It's a vigorous, voracious press that keeps our country honest. Regulating the media would undermine its ferocious ability to highlight wrongdoing."

He called a planned royal charter outlining the new regulation a "monstrous folly."

Johnson also suggested that a political expenses scandal led British politicians to call for the Leveson Inquiry, not the phone hacking scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. "It was the hacking cases that gave them their pretext," he wrote.

Johnson also argued Monday that Britain's current laws sufficiently protect people from media abuse. "We already have abundant law against obscenity or breach of official secrets. We have laws against libel and defamation, against bugging, hacking, theft, bribery of public officials," he wrote. "We have a growing tort of breach of privacy. We have no need of some new body backed by statute...and it is wrong in principle."

Concluded the London mayor: "You either have a free press or you don’t. You can’t sell the pass, and admit the principle of regulation – because it is in the nature of regulation that it swells and grows. You can’t be a little bit pregnant."

Johnson also had a suggestion for those "bothered by those nasty people from the media." If they "won’t go away, and they continue to sit outside your house asking questions to which you have already told them the answer, may I recommend that you do as my children and I once did years ago," he wrote. "We imitated Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, and we stuffed bananas secretly up the reporter’s tailpipe, and I remember us laughing helplessly at her air of puzzlement as she kaboing-ed up the road."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai