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Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith speaks of 'rage' with the press
Zac Goldsmith has been criticised for using Auschwitz as an example in his criticism of the practices of tabloid newspapers.
Speaking before a joint committee on privacy and injunctions, the Richmond Park MP argued newspapers should not have the attitude that taking part in dubious practices was an acceptable means to staying afloat.
He said: “No one said Auschwitz should be kept open because it created jobs.”
He later said on Twitter that, although his point was valid, he should not have cited the concentration camp.
Mr Goldsmith was invited to speak at the joint committee yesterday, Monday, December 5, as the national privacy debate continues alongside the current Leveson inquiry into phone hacking.
The parliamentary committee’s role is to review media regulations and establish how to “strike a balance between privacy and freedom of expression".
Mr Goldsmith, former editor of the Ecologist magazine, joined comedian Steve Coogan, actor Hugh Grant and former motor racing president Max Mosley to address the committee and share his own experiences of dealing with the press.
He said: “[I have had] my own experience of the endless tension for need of a free press and need for privacy.
“I discovered, thanks to a tip off, that a great many emails, private emails exchanged by myself, my sister and ex-wife had been leaked to editors around the country with an appetite for the stories.”
He added: “The following day even though I had sought a super injunction very quickly, journalists shouted across the garden wall: 'Is it true you’re divorcing your wife?', while I was playing with my children.
"Now luckily they didn’t hear that but it was the one time in my life I was struck with an uncontrollable physical rage.”
The MP went on to suggest a way to deal with improving privacy law would be to create a new independent organisation to deal with issues and to set out a clear parliamentary framework for how this would run.
He said: “The fact we are having this discussion...tells me at least, the PCC (press complaints commission) has failed in its duty and not done the job they were supposed to have done.
“I think it’s time now to create a properly independent organisation that has the teeth and the stamina to act as a regulator.”
He added: “I personally think we should [have a privacy law] and I think we should set out a framework ourselves in parliament to give it more legitimacy.
“We need to absolutely tread a fine line between the need for privacy and the need for a free press, without which I don’t think we have a free society.”