David Cameron

David Cameron addressing the House of Commons this morning

Credit: PA

David Cameron has outlined the details of a two-stage judge-led inquiry covering phone hacking, police corruption, and media regulation.

The inquiry, which will be led by senior UK judge Lord Leveson, will begin at once Cameron said, with the first stage reporting within 12 months.

The first stage will look at media standards, the prime minister announced, covering: "The culture, practices and ethics of the press, their relationship with the police; the failure of the current system of regulation; the contacts made, and discussions had between national newspapers and politicians; why previous warnings about press misconduct were not heeded; and the issue of cross-media ownership."

Leveson will be expected to make recommendations for "a new, more effective way of regulating the press". Cameron said it should be "one that supports their freedom, plurality and independence from government but which also demands the highest ethical and professional standards".

The prime minister acknowledged that "self-regulation has quite a bad name now" but stressed that he did not want to "move to a world of full statutory regulation".

Leveson will also be expected to make a recommendation on "the future conduct of relations between politicians and the press".

The second part of the inquiry will look into "the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers," Cameron said. This will cover the phone hacking and payments made to police officers for information, as well as the wider implications of the relationship between the police and the press.

Current and former senior Met police officers appeared before the home affairs select committee yesterday to answer questions about the force's phone hacking investigation and the payments scandal.

Cameron said this morning that it had been a "mixed appearance" by assistant commissioner John Yates, who was told the committee regarded his evidence as "unconvincing", and former assistant commissioner Andy Hayman. He praised Sue Akers, who is leading the current Met investigation, for her testimony.

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