The Blair administration, possibly conscious of its thraldom to global press proprietors and their local equivalents, declined to introduce a new privacy law and add a set of teeth to regulation of the nation's press.

The decision rejected demands by parliament's powerful and bipartisan culture, media and sport select committee, which earlier this year called for new legislation to protect individuals from press intrusion.

It also urged the imposition of punitive fines for newspapers that breach the industry's voluntary code of conduct. Such breaches are commonplace.

But powerful though the select committee may be, alongside the political make-or-break might of the UK press it is but a gnat to an elephant.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport on Tuesday issued a bland statement declining to introduce statutory regulation of the media, claiming that existing legislation offers adequate privacy safeguards.

Said the Department: "It is entirely appropriate for the courts to decide where the right balance lies, rather than setting out boundaries in legislation that attempt to cover all events ... The provision of an effective informal remedy through self-regulation can protect against the exacerbation of any harm."

The government's decision was welcomed by the Press Complaints Commission, a self-regulatory body funded and run by the newspaper industry.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff