Leveson vs Paxman: 'You could become an irrelevance'

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Paxman: "Your challenge will be to stop yourself becoming a total irrelevance."
Paxman: "Your challenge will be to stop yourself becoming a total irrelevance."

Jeremy Paxman was in typical form when he appeared at the inquiry into media standards today, as he told Lord Leveson: "Your challenge will be to stop yourself becoming a total irrelevance."

The comment came as the Newsnight presenter discussed the various inquiries into politics and the press which took place in the mid-20th Century.

"In the past there was an inquiry and they were quietly forgotten. I hope you escape that fate," he said.

Lord Leveson replied: "I am entirely cognizant of the problem and have said that the only thing I'm not intending to do is produce a document that sits on the second shelf of a professor of journalism's study."

Mr Paxman replied: "As high as the second shelf eh?"

Elsewhere in the testimony, the BBC journalist cast serious doubt on the evidence given by former Mirror editor Piers Morgan, when Mr Paxman insinuatedMr Morgan knew how to hack phones in 2002.

The comments centred on a lunch hosted by Sir Victor Blank, which included Mr Morgan, TV presenter Ulrika Johnson and Philip Green as guests – a collection of figures Mr Paxman described as a "bestiary".

He then described how Mr Morgan repeated Ms Johnson's answering machine messages from Sven-Göran Eriksson back to her before telling Mr Paxman to change his voicemail settings.

"I don't know whether he was making this up but it was clearly something that he was familiar with and I wasn't," Mr Paxman said.

Tomorrow the inquiry will hear from Adam Smith, Jeremy Hunt's former special adviser, and Frederic Michel, his point-man at News International.
 

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