Richard Desmond owns the Daily Express and the Daily Star
4:02pm UK, Thursday January 12, 2012
The owner of the Daily Express and Daily Star, Richard Desmond, has told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that he has no editorial influence over his media empire.
Mr Desmond insisted he was purely an “advertising man” and that he bought the Daily Express newspaper in order to “restore it to its former glory”.
He is due to be asked about his decision to withdraw his titles from newspaper regulator the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in January last year.
Several previous witnesses have told the inquiry that any replacement for the PCC must apply to all major players in the industry if it is to be effective.
Mr Desmond indicated in November that he could bring his newspapers and magazines back under the gaze of a press regulator.
He told a parliamentary committee investigating privacy laws that he hoped to be able to rejoin the PCC under the new leadership of Lord Hunt.
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“I am sure that with a chairman like that, we could be working together again,” he said.
The inquiry also heard today from Mr Desmond’s executives, including Daily Express editor Hugh Whittow and Daily Star editor Dawn Neesom.
Prime Minister David Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry last July in response to revelations that the News of the World commissioned a private detective to hack murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone after she disappeared in 2002.
The first part of the inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general and is due to produce a report by September.
It began taking evidence in November, and has heard a series of complaints about media intrusion from celebrities and the families of murdered and abducted children.
The inquiry’s second part, examining the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, will not begin until detectives have completed their investigation into alleged phone hacking and corrupt payments to police, and any prosecutions have been concluded.