We have all been shocked by the horrendous stories of phone hacking and police corruption that have unfolded over the last few weeks. I have received countless emails from constituents appalled at the criminal activities that have, among other things, rightly forced the News of the World to close.

These are terrible circumstances and where it will all end is far from clear. It is absolutely right that the Prime Minister should have established a powerful and independent public inquiry. Lord Justice Leveson has an impressive team to look into both the phone hacking scandal itself and the wider questions around the culture of the media in this country. We now have a unique opportunity to put things right, to protect press freedom but build responsibility.

Of course, in a sense there's nothing new in all this. It was the great Worcestershire statesman Stanley Baldwin who attacked the media barons of his day when, in 1931, he said of them that they exercised “Power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.”

What he would have made of recent events I shudder to think - but I hope, like me, that he would value local newspapers. Whilst the mayhem is continuing in the national press we must not forget the stability that the local newspapers bring us.

Local papers act as roots for the community, containing real local news - and making a much better job of getting the facts right than their national cousins. The articles are refreshingly honest and factual and I salute the Droitwich Advertiser - and other local papers too - for the service that they provide to us.

Local papers are more responsible, more accountable and, frankly, just better than most national papers. That's not to say I always agree with the views of my local papers, with every aspect of their interpretation of events, or with the priority that attach to particular stories. But local papers serve their communities in a way their national cousins could learn from and we should treasure them.


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