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In a speech last night to POLIS, the journalism think-tank, at the London School of Economics, Sir Christopher Meyer, Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission attacked the government for chipping away at press freedom and damaging democracy. "I believe the boundaries of freedom of expression seem to be closing in a bit on newspapers and magazines in a way which may not be healthy," said Sir Christopher.

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I don't believe in government plotting to curb freedom of expression," he said. "But when you read that after two years, there are proposals to make it more difficult to obtain information under the Freedom of Information Act, you have to worry."

The problem stemmed from politicians overestimating the influence of the press. "Politicians believe if they don't get a favourable write up, it is the end of the world," he said.

"In 2006 it is harder to find out what is going on in government than it was 10 years ago," said Sir Christopher. “Hundreds of years of press freedom are being blown away in a decade”.

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