Signed by former Conservative cabinet members Liam Fox and David Davis, and chairman of the 1922 committee Graham Brady, as well as Labour’s Graham Stringer, Kate Hoey, Frank Field and lone Liberal Democrat John Hemming and several prominent Lords.

“As parliamentarians, we believe in free speech and are opposed to the imposition of any form of statutory control even if it is dressed up as underpinning,” says the letter.

“The press abuse chronicled at Leveson was almost wholly about actions which were against the law. It demonstrated not a failure of regulation but law enforcement,” the letter continues, before calling for a “much improved” independent regulator.

The letter preempts the recommendations likely to be made by Lord Leveson’s inquiry into press standards, which will be delivered to David Cameron at lunchtime today, and will be made public tomorrow.

If, as is expected, Leveson suggests statutory regulation of the press it could lead to the sight of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg standing up after the prime minister in the Commons to disagree with him.

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