How free should our free press be?

The Leveson Inquiry may be taking a few days off but Decision Time is looming on how free our "free press" should really be.

The question Lord Justice Leveson will have to answer is whether British newspapers have so abused their power that they've lost the right to be free of regulation imposed on them by Parliament.

Or is the freedom of the press so valuable that politicians should resist at all costs setting rules for those whose job is, in part, to hold the powerful to account?

Do the experiences of Milly Dowler's family and all those whose phones were hacked, the McCanns and all those who have been maligned and Max Mosley and all those whose privacy has been invaded prove that the press needs to be investigated by a powerful new body which can fine papers and force them to make front page corrections?

Or would this be a grotesque over reaction to the phone hacking scandal which is, after all, now being pursued vigorously by the police and through the courts?

Tonight on Decision Time on BBC Radio 4 I chair a discussion with a tabloid editor, the former chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, a campaigner for Hacked Off, a former Culture Secretary and a senior mandarin.

And they all end up appearing to agree on a way forward - to their and my surprise.

You can hear what they agree on - and an awful lot that they don't - on Decision Time at 8pm (and online after that) with:

* Sir Christopher Meyer, who was Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission when phone hacking was first revealed and, before that, was press secretary to Prime Minister John Major.

* Bridget Rowe, former editor of the People and Sunday Mirror newspapers.

* Sir Hayden Phillips, who was Permanent Secretary 20 years ago at what was called the Department for National Heritage when the press were warned they were drinking in the last-chance saloon.

* Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State in the last Labour government in what was by then the Department of Culture, Media & Sport.

* Evan Harris, the former Liberal Democrat MP who now works with the Hacked Off campaign.

PS Like the judge, I'm taking a few days off to enjoy the British weather (!). Back next week.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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