Why should newspapers take lectures in moral rectitude from the likes of Hugh Grant?

As the wine glasses clink and the smug murmuring spreads in luvvieland, I do hope celebrations have not been a bit premature among the Hacked Off contingent.

The motley crew, led by Messrs Grant and Coogan, appear to be the only people in the land truly happy with the messy compromise which has been reached over the Leveson Report.

By using ‘The Victims’ (otherwise known as the McCanns and the Dowlers) as a human shield, they have charged the disreputable ramparts of the national Press and claimed outright victory.

But it is difficult for anyone to take lectures in moral rectitude from the likes of Hugh Grant, who was once arrested in Los Angeles and charged with lewd conduct with a prostitute.

He is right to feel outraged about the fact that his phone was hacked, but most victims have contented themselves with compensation payments, public apologies and the thought that those responsible are like to end up in prison.

But Grant marshalled their forces into a crusade intended to imperil the existence of a free Press in this country.

It won’t work, however, because the national newspapers who were completely blameless have no intention of being shackled or muzzled by the excesses of their mucky cohorts who lurk much further down market.

Meanwhile, the many hundreds of newspapers in the local and regional Press are incensed that their reputation should be sullied by association.

They argue, quite properly, that they should not be expected to pay the price for the type of criminal action they would never even contemplate, far less carry out. Meanwhile, the leaders of the three main political parties continue to justify the typical fudge over what form the new Press watchdog will take.

What we are left with is a clunky aspiration to control newspapers in this country, while pretending to care about preserving three centuries of Press freedom. It is doomed to fail.

When Lance Corporal James Ashworth’s patrol stormed a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan, the 23-year-old Grenadier Guardsman acted with no thought for his own safety. He killed three insurgents in a fire-fight at close quarters, and was gunned down while attempting to throw his final grenade at a sniper.

The six-foot eight-inch soldier proved he was a giant among men in every way, and his outstanding gallantry has been rewarded with a posthumous Victoria Cross.

The next time football commentators, or television presenters, start to bandy around terms like ‘bravery’ and ‘courage’ to describe the antics of over-paid players or weeping quiz-show contestants, they might like to stop for a moment and consider what the words really mean.