Beyond the law
Sir: In your leading article of 28 June you make the point that the hacking trial demonstrates why political oversight of press regulation, not press regulation by politicians, would be an unnecessary ‘draconian step’ because ‘hacking is already against the law’. Later you compare the illegal but honourable behaviour of Andy Coulson with that of Damian McBride, who ‘broke no law but behaved criminally’. In doing so you weaken the earlier argument.
Regulation of the press should not solely be focused on illegal activity; rather it is to ensure that the press does not behave in a way analogous to that you criticise McBride for. In the case of the Chris Jeffries, for example, aside from the contempt of court fines imposed on the Daily Mirror and the Sun and the libel damages paid by eight newspapers, there were many aspects of his treatment where the press broke no law but behaved in a way that many viewed as criminal. That is why an independent press regulator overseen by a democratically elected parliament is required.
Sell it yourself
Sir: Harry Mount is correct to say the internet will herald the end of the estate agent (‘The end of estate agents’, 28 June). Across a whole swath of industries, the web is rapidly bringing an end to the monopolies that offer poor value to the consumer. The real estate industry will not be immune from this. Buyers and sellers are looking to reduce their costs, and the 2 per cent which agents typically charge does not stand up to scrutiny. With relatively little effort sellers can list their properties online and cut out the agents, saving themselves thousands. It will not be long before the estate agency model in Britain is shattered by home owners questioning what their fees go on and doing it themselves.