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UK judge issues damning press verdict

  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson pauses as he delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

    Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson pauses as he delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

  • A man carries copies of the Leveson Inquiry report as he leaves the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    A man carries copies of the Leveson Inquiry report as he leaves the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • Britain's former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Tony Blair is given a cake by  during a visit to the Rams Head Inn in Denshaw northern England while campaigning for the Labour Party Tuesday May 4, 2010. Britain goes to the polls in a General Election on Thursday (AP Photo/ Dave Thompson/Pool)

    Britain's former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Tony Blair is given a cake by during a visit to the Rams Head Inn in Denshaw northern England while campaigning for the Labour Party Tuesday May 4, 2010. Britain goes to the polls in a General Election on Thursday (AP Photo/ Dave Thompson/Pool)

  • Kuwaiti officials accompanying Kuwait's Emir Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, not visible, look on as he visits Westminster Abbey on the last day of his state visit to Britain, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Sean Dempsy, Pool)

    Kuwaiti officials accompanying Kuwait's Emir Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, not visible, look on as he visits Westminster Abbey on the last day of his state visit to Britain, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Sean Dempsy, Pool)

  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

    Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson, center back, delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

    Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson, center back, delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson, center back, delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

    Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson, center back, delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

    Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)

  • Max Mosley, ex-Formula One boss speaks to the media outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in London, where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses,  Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    Max Mosley, ex-Formula One boss speaks to the media outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in London, where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • Max Mosley, ex-Formula One boss speaks to the media outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in London, where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses,  Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    Max Mosley, ex-Formula One boss speaks to the media outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in London, where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • A protestor's dog wears a banner outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    A protestor's dog wears a banner outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • A protestor's dog wears a banner outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    A protestor's dog wears a banner outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson pauses as he delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)
  • A man carries copies of the Leveson Inquiry report as he leaves the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • Britain's former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Tony Blair is given a cake by  during a visit to the Rams Head Inn in Denshaw northern England while campaigning for the Labour Party Tuesday May 4, 2010. Britain goes to the polls in a General Election on Thursday (AP Photo/ Dave Thompson/Pool)
  • Kuwaiti officials accompanying Kuwait's Emir Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, not visible, look on as he visits Westminster Abbey on the last day of his state visit to Britain, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Sean Dempsy, Pool)
  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)
  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson, center back, delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)
  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson, center back, delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)
  • Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson delivers a statement following the release of the Leveson Inquiry report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. After a yearlong inquiry full of sensational testimony, Lord Justice Leveson released his report Thursday into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses. (AP Photo/Dan Kitwood, Pool)
  • Max Mosley, ex-Formula One boss speaks to the media outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in London, where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses,  Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • Max Mosley, ex-Formula One boss speaks to the media outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in London, where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses,  Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • A protestor's dog wears a banner outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • A protestor's dog wears a banner outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where Lord Justice Brian Leveson released his report, after a year long inquiry, into the culture and practices of the British press and his recommendations for future regulation to prevent phone hacking, data theft, bribery and other abuses, London, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Britain’s unruly newspapers should be regulated by an independent body dominated by non-journalists with the power to levy steep fines, a judge said yesterday in a report that pleased victims of tabloid intrusion but left editors worrying about creeping state control of the country’s fiercely independent press.

Prime Minister David Cameron echoed concerns about government interference, expressing misgivings about a key recommendation of the report – that the new regulator be enshrined in law. He called on the much criticized press to show it could control itself by implementing the judge’s proposals quickly – and without political involvement.

“I’m proud of the fact that we’ve managed to survive hundreds of years without state regulation,” he said.

Lord Justice Brian Leveson issued his 2,000-page report at the end of a media ethics inquiry triggered by a scandal over tabloid phone hacking that expanded to engulf senior figures in politics, the police and Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

His key recommendation was to create a new print media regulator, which he said should be established in law to prevent more people being hurt by “outrageous” press behavior that had “wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and liberties have been disdained.”

Cameron, under intense pressure from both sides of an issue that has divided his own Conservative Party, welcomed Leveson’s proposal for a new regulator and said “the status quo is not an option.”

But he said that asking legislators to enshrine it in law meant “crossing the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land.”

“I believe that we should be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press,” Cameron told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

“In this House which has been a bulwark of democracy for centuries, we should think very, very carefully before crossing this line,” Cameron said.

Leveson insisted that politicians and the government should play no role in regulating the press, which should be done by a new body with much stronger powers than the current Press Complaints Commission.

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