Speaking at a City University debate held in association with the Press Gazette last night, the editor of The Independent said that The Guardian's incorrect report that journalists had deleted voicemail messages on murdered teenager Milly Dowler's phone was the catalyst for the inquiry.
While accepting that "it was bad [Dowler's] phone was hacked", he said that Leveson would not have been called to investigate the press "if The Guardian had actually realised how to work a mobile phone".
While he welcomed the inquiry, he added that it was "set up in a flawed way" as "a political response" to the combination of the Dowler story, ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson and Rupert Murdoch's ill-fated bid for complete ownership of BSkyB.
"It's flawed because it's not really looking at the ethics at all," Blackhurst said. "He says he's looking beyond hacking - to my knowledge so far he's not called any PRs or lobbyists."
> News of the World defends Milly Dowler phone hacking
> News International accused of email deletion policy
Blackhurst added that while The Independent "didn't hack phones", in part due to lack of funds, "if we could have hacked in the public interest we probably would have done... in the public interest".
He claimed that it was "quite bizarre" for the inquiry to run at the same time as a criminal investigation and expressed fears that recommendations made by the inquiry could have a chilling effect on future investigative journalism.
The Leveson inquiry was earlier this month urged to publish the files of Operation Motorman, an investigation revealing various breaches of the Data Protection Act by newspapers.