Leveson lesson 'too hard to forget'

A judge heading an inquiry into the press has been told that the owner of the News of the World had learned lessons too hard to forget.

The Leveson Inquiry was launched in the wake of allegations that journalists at the now-extinct Sunday tabloid hacked phones.

A lawyer representing owner News International, which is headed by tycoon Rupert Murdoch and also publishes The Sun, listed events that had occurred in the wake of hacking allegations.

And he told inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson that bosses did not want to have to learn the lessons again.

"The News of the World, a 168-year-old paper, has been felled," said Rhodri Davies QC, as the eight-month inquiry drew to a close.

"There have been a lot of arrests and a host of civil claims.

"These are lessons that are too severe to be forgotten and News International are determined not to have to learn them again."

Mr Davies was speaking as he cautioned Lord Justice Leveson against over-burdening the press with regulation. "The excesses of the press have occurred when the search for a story has overcome the boundaries of privacy," he said.

"Whatever the regulatory solution may be, lessons have been learned. It is a culture of clean-up that is now in place."

He told the inquiry that most people in the UK read tabloid and "mid-market" newspapers - not broadsheets. And he said popular newspapers had to be given the "scope to entertain".