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Over the past six years I have been involved with a number of issues, both as an MP and as chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, involving corruption in sport. In many of these scandals it has been investigative journalists who first brought the issue into the light. Often journalists have provided the only safe haven for whistleblowers whose attempts to raise concerns through official channels within their sport were rebuffed. In a free society, the ability of the press to hold the powerful to account is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.

Freedom not only provides the power to act, but also occasions when people will make mistakes. That can apply to the media as well. I was on the select committee when it investigated the issue of newspapers using phone-hacking techniques to get stories.

That was wrong and people have served prison terms for what they did; large payments of damages have been made to victims of press intrusion. A public inquiry led by Lord Leveson in 2012 also recommended substantial reform of press regulation. Since then, the old Press Complaints Commission has been replaced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), a body which acts independently of the newspapers and has the power to adjudicate complaints against them. It can also levy fines of up to £1 million and launch standards investigations.


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