Foreign newspapers and columnists have roundly criticised the new British press regulation system, with one describing it as ‘scary’ and another as 'a mess'.

Canada’s Toronto Star said it was ‘as if crime victims had helped judges establish sentencing guidelines’ and the Australian warned of a ‘press regulator with the power to maul unruly hacks’.

The New York Times added that 'it would be perverse if regulations enacted in response to this scandal ended up stifling the kind of hard-hitting investigative journalism that brought it to light in the first place'.

And Arthur Macdonald of the Gulf Daily News in Bahrain said: ‘We already have in place the best regulatory force of any organisation on the planet. They are called the readers.’

It comes after Britain's main political parties agreed on Monday to create a new system to regulate the news media following the phone hacking scandal.