Tabloid scandal destroys trust in press: British Deputy PM

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Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg declared Friday that the telephone hacking scandal that brought down Rupert Murdoch's The News of the World had destroyed trust in the press.

Speaking in Paris to business leaders, Clegg compared the tabloid's offence to the catastrophic loss of trust in Britain's banks during the credit crunch and to the recent expenses scandal that shamed the Westminister parliament.

"I think that what we're seeing is a total collapse in public confidence in yet another pillar of the British establishment," he told the MEDEF business forum. "I totally share the public dismay, disgust and anger.

"What we now need to do is to use those feelings into something which creates something better for the future," he said.

Clegg, who is also leader of the Liberal Democrat-wing of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-led coalition, vowed that the government would help to clean up the behaviour of the media and restore public trust.

"We're going to take the opportunity to clean the system up and renew it," Clegg said, warning: "We cannot ever again have this spectacle of people in certain newspapers acting with complete impunity."

Earlier, in London, Cameron had announced two public inquiries -- one into the scandal at the News of the World where editors are accused of snooping in private voicemail accounts, and one into general media ethics.

But the scandal -- which saw Murdoch's son James announce Thursday that the 168-year-old scandal sheet would fold -- has also tainted a government that has long had close ties to Murdoch's News International media empire.

Police arrested Cameron's former chief media adviser Andy Coulson on Friday over alleged offences he is said to have committed while editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, when he resigned over telephone hacking.

Cameron is also a personal friend of News International's embattled chief executive Rebekah Brooks -- herself another former News of the World editor.

© 2011 AFP

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