Ashdown: PM has made a 'colossal blunder' on press

Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown Credit: Peter Jordan/PA Archive/Press Association Images

David Cameron has made a colossal "strategic blunder" by withdrawing from talks on the creation of a new system of press regulation, former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has said.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's The Week in Westminster, to be broadcast today, Ashdown said that Cameron has angered his own MPs, supporters in the media and his Lib Dem coalition partners.

"I have not seen an avoidable strategic blunder made by a British prime minister or indeed the leader of a British political party which matches that of Mr Cameron over Leveson," he said .

"He marched his troops up to the top of the hill and then he had to march them back down again.

"In terms of strategy, this seems to me to make the Grand Old Duke of York look like a military genius."

Mr Cameron broke off talks with Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg on the implementation of the Leveson report on press standards after the Labour and Lib Dem leaders insisted the planned new regulator should be reinforced by legislation.