The freedom of the Press to hold the powerful to account should be cherished, the owner of The Independent newspaper said yesterday.
Evgeny Lebedev, whose family owns the London Evening Standard, warned the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards: ‘I’ve seen the other side.’
He said that in his native Russia, corruption went unchecked because editors were constrained by Press barons who were in hock to rich businessmen.
Mr Lebedev said: ‘I was born in the Soviet Union, I come from Russia, and I can see the effects of not having a free Press is having on Russia.’
He claimed more than £180billion had been siphoned out of the country by unscrupulous oligarchs, many of whom were now living in London.
He said: ‘I think one of the extraordinary things about this country is a very robust and diverse Press, and I think that has to be protected.