On the broad principle, that is to say the need for more effective regulation of the press, I do not quarrel too much with Lord Justice Leveson.
It is not much of a secret that on most issues, I'd agree with Miliband rather than Cameron.
But here I side with the Prime Minister: I, too, consider legislation to be a dangerous step. A law would, in my view, be very likely to be extended by some future administration intent on curbing further the activities of the free press; without trying too hard, I can even imagine the parliamentary speech in which a minister commends the proposed amendments to the House.
And the reason I am so sure of this is that I feel politicians are even less trustworthy than journalists. That said, while I remain proud of my trade, I am also willing to see where it has gone wrong. Others have said more profound things, for and against, about the Leveson report. I will look, for now at least, at one area that troubles me ...
One of the compelling images of television coverage of the Leveson inquiry and report has been that of the unfortunate Christopher Jefferies, wrongly treated as a suspect by police and wrongly pilloried in some newspapers, at the time of the Joanna Yeates murder investigation.
I have heard phrases such as "the press pack" to describe newspaper reporters and photographers outside his home. The impression given is that here is a wholly unwarranted intrusion - by newspapers - into the life of an innocent man. Broadcasters providing the voiceover for the footage sound suitably disapproving.
Stop for a second to think about it. How does the footage exist? Because the event was filmed by a television camera crew, more likely two or more crews. TV was there too, contributing to the intrusion or - if you prefer - reporting an important event.
Try to recall that Chelsea gym where Diana, Princess of Wales worked out. It should be easy to do so as it has been on the screen a lot. Film of press photographers has been shown, almost ritually, to illustrate reports about harassment of the princess. Again, TV was able to use the film because it, too, had been present.
How can it possibly be right for television to doorstep Mr Jefferies or a royal, and wrong for newspapers to be in the same place?
Doorstepping is ugly. It is also an almost inevitable consequence of someone, famous or otherwise, being in the news. Sometimes, perhaps even often, there is ample justification for the media to gather there.
By all means debate the phenomenon. Suggest realistic remedies such as the Press Association (PA) having some statutory right to make the only approaches allowed in law. But it is a problem for the media as a whole, not just one dying section of it.
Where do TV reporters film their reports when some poor individual is dragged into the limelight? Think of the recent case of the schoolgirl who swanned off to France with a teacher. They, the TV reporters, do it from the family's doorstep, their arms flailing about like windmill blades.
Yet again, the complaints we hear are about people from newspapers going to the same doorstep. It is as if telly people, because they come into our living rooms, are cuddly friends whose presence in times of tragedy is the most natural thing in the world.
This sequence appears in the Leveson report:
Protecting the publicHow are we going to define "public interest" and the threshhold that must be reached before an individual has the right to insist that he or she wants no "press intrusion"?40. A new regulatory body should continue to provide advice to the public in relation to issues concerning the press and the Code along with a service to warn the press, and other relevant parties such as broadcasters and press photographers, when an individual has made it clear that they do not welcome press intrusion.41. A new regulatory body should make it clear that newspapers will be held strictly accountable, under their standards code, for any material that they publish, including photographs (however sourced).The public interest42. A regulatory body should provide guidance on the interpretation of the public interest that justifies what would otherwise constitute a breach of the Code. This must be framed in the context of the different provisions of the Code relating to the public interest, so as to make it easier to justify what might otherwise be considered as contrary to standards of propriety.43. A new regulatory body should consider being explicit that where a public interest justification is to be relied upon, a record should be available of the factors weighing against and in favour of publication, along with a record of the reasons for the conclusion reached.44. A new regulatory body should consider whether it might provide an advisory service to editors in relation to consideration of the public interest in taking particular actions.
Sir Max Hastings, writing in the Mail, suggested this was a blank cheque for celebs to determine that the tap of personal publicity should be turned off "presumably whenever they are not promoting a book or movie".
Max and I do not always agree. We do now.
Three decades ago, on the morning after a pilot was killed in the Falklands war, a reporter from the Press Association and another from the Evening Standard appeared, as instructed by their newsdesks, at 8am at the door of his father in Somerset. He made a dignified statement that became a footnote of the conflict, words to this effect: "I am proud to have had a son who died doing the job he loved for the country he loved."
What is less well known is that he then called the police to have anyone else - radio and TV included - removed as they, too, arrived.
Fair enough, many would say. But their approaches would have been no less sympathetic and respectful than the ones he received more indulgently. The reporter arriving third, fourth and so on would have been heartened to hear on the radio that the father was approachable.
But how can anyone possibly legislate or make hard and fast rules to cover such a situation? Some bereaved relatives would have been horrified by any approach at all. Others would welcome the consolation of being able to pay tribute publicly to loved ones. Others still would have taken the father's line: accept the first caller, have the rest ordered away. You begin to see the minefield created by trying to govern by rule or by law.
As a working reporter, I have always loathed doorstepping, whether justifiable intellectually or not. It feels demeaning, to me at any rate. I remember a friend from a tabloid noticing how I, then on the Telegraph, perked up when the man from The Guardian arrived, too. The story? A woman had told another paper - a broadsheet - that a Tory minister was the father of the child she was carrying. I couldn't have cared less but the people that employed us did care.
And yes, it is sometimes necessary. I do not think law can hope to dictate when that may be the case but I do think, or at least hope, a regulatory body with teeth could.
While I am on, though, I must check to see whether Lord Leveson remembered to ...
* recommend making it a criminal offence to lie to, or mislead, the press
* urge Parliament to make libel tourism to the UK impossible (or UK libel laws fair)
* campaign for equally intensive inquiries to be held into the work of judges, laywers, estate agents, politicians, police officers, accountants, plumbers, traffic wardens, teachers, doctors ... sorry, the list threatens to become too long.
***** See also: