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Rob Wilson's Westminster Diary, July 7, 2011

Published: 8 Jul 2011 09:301 comment

I HEARD someone say on the radio that journalism is about to experience its own expenses scandal moment. If that's true, it's about to go through the fire and deservedly so.

The tabloids in particular have a lot to answer for as the evidence is now piling up about the disgraceful way they have behaved.

I am outraged at the allegation that police were taking money and that innocent victims' voicemail was allegedly hacked into by those acting on behalf of the News Of The World.

I don't believe for a second it's only the News Of The World, or even just the tabloids, that are guilty of appalling conduct. This will go much wider than that and it will show just how out of control our press have become over the past decade. I always thought Labour was too cosy with the media. It's now very important that the police get to the bottom of this scandal and prosecute those that are guilty of wrongdoing.

Of course the police will have questions to answer, as they were very reluctant to properly investigate what was going on and now we know that payments were being made by national newspapers to the police. Phone hacking is likely to dominate matters at Westminster for some time to come.

However, the local press is a different matter and it seems to self-regulate itself much more effectively. Maybe because it relies on community support, both financial and moral.

But I believe it needs to be strengthened, and local TV could help in this process, that's why I've been lobbying for Reading to be one of the areas chosen to have local TV.

I believe this could inject real dynamism into the local market and help refresh local journalism. I think it's far from a done deal that I will be successful in bringing local TV to Reading, because there is a great deal of competition, but I will be pushing as hard as I can. If Reading is to be a city, it needs to be taken seriously as a major player and local TV will help to do that.

The national media will need reforming, but so does Parliament. We still haven't put right all that went wrong in the expenses scandal. Some of you have noticed I'm involved in a little contretemps with the Speaker John Bercow. I believe he has a duty to deliver on his Speaker election manifesto and to be impartial in his deliberations in doing so. We'll see if I'm right.

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