Jack Straw at the Leveson inquiry

Jack Straw: 'I think it is time for parliament to accept the job we passed to the judiciary'

The former justice secretary, Jack Straw, has called for the Human Rights Act to be amended to include a new clause on breach of privacy.

Giving evidence at the Leveson inquiry today, Straw said that when the Human Rights Act was passed in 2008 parliament felt the privacy element was best left to the senior judiciary to interpret and apply, but that had now changed.

He told the inquiry: "There is a need now for parliament to amend the law so there is a tort of breach of privacy that applies to everybody.

"I think it is time for parliament to accept the job we passed to the judiciary."

Asked about newspapers' political allegiances and the power they had on political parties, Straw said: "Television, radio and the internet have become much more powerful - but it is still the print media that sets the news values, and they set the news values for the broadcasters as much as they do for their own colleagues in the print media."

He said there were "only two newspapers that are unpredictable" in the run-up to a general election - the Guardian and the Sun.

"The Guardian normally supports the Labour party except in parties where we really need them to support us, when they support the Liberal Democrats. It's a fairweather friend, it's unpredictable," he said.

On Murdoch and the Sun, Straw added: "The perception that I've had is that Mr Murdoch has enjoyed the fact that he's been able to play with political leaders in a way that other newspapers haven't, because their loyalty is predictable.

"I have no direct evidence - this is my surmise. I've never had more than a paragraph of conversation with him."

Straw also revealed that he made arrangements to sit next to Rebekah Brooks on their morning train commute from West Oxfordshire to London from 2007 to 2009 - after they discovered they both made the same journey.

He said the conversations "weren't social – they were political. We'd talk about what was in the papers, we'd gossip about personalities, and a lot of the time we'd get on with work."

Earlier in the evidence session, Straw also expressed concern that coverage of parliament had moved away from being a factual record to "personality, conflict-based journalism".

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