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The late 1980s was a time of feverish competition between national tabloid newspapers for sensational stories which resulted in a heightened concern among British Members of Parliament about press behaviour; including intrusion into the privacy of individuals.

In 1989 the Conservative Government formed an advisory group, the Committee on Privacy and Related Matters, to inquire whether reforms, regulatory or otherwise, were needed to further protect privacy and improve, for ordinary citizens, rights of recourse against the press. The eminent lawyer, David Calcutt QC, chaired it and it became known as the Calcutt Committee.

Later in 1989 the then Home Office Minister David Mellor, referring to the mood of some MPs that new laws were needed to curb press excesses, made his famous remark on Channel 4's Hard ...

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