Express newspapers owner Richard Desmond does not want to expand his stakes in other British national newspaper titles because the market is too tough, he told the Leveson Inquiry on press standards and ethics on Thursday.

Definitely not, said Desmond when asked about expansion of a group that includes the Daily Express and Daily Star, calling newspapers a tough, tough, tough business. He had said in June 2010 that he would like to buy Rupert Murdoch's tabloid The Sun.

Desmond, who quit voluntary regulatory body the Press Complaints Commission a year ago, indicated he might return if it was constituted to his satisfaction.

The PCC, whose future is being debated by the Inquiry, is now headed by Lord Peter Hunt of Wirral, after Peta Buscombe quit last summer under criticism for failing to take action over the News of the World hacking scandal.

A Lord Hunt of Wirral surrounded by a couple of lawyers surrounded by a couple of proper editorial grandees, not malicious people... and I think we'd all be very happy, he said. If you've got this body you've got to have people you respect, he said.

Desmond said he had quit the PCC because it was completely ineffectual and said it had unfairly singled out Daily Express editor Peter Hill for criticism over the newspaper's coverage of the disappearance of toddler Madeleine McCann in 2007.

To see the chairman of the PCC, whatever his name is, stand on BBC television and vilify Peter Hill, vilify Express Newspapers, that was like the final straw, he said.

I felt it was a useless organisation, he said.

It was run by the people that hated our guts, that wanted us out of business, that tried every day to put us out of business, and yet smile at us, and were completely ineffectual. I mean, what else do you want me to say about the PCC? he asked.

He denied that the Express had run sensational stories about the McCanns to sell more newspapers.

Media analyst Steve Hewlett, who has followed the inquiry closely, told Reuters: He went out of his way to say that the stories didn't boost circulation and that's just wrong. Everyone knows that if you've got the right story and picture on the front page, it sells.

He added: On the PCC front, one has some sympathy for him. They were regarded as outsiders to the club, they were treated as newcomers, there's no doubt about that.

When asked about the newspaper group's ethics, Desmond said: Ethical -- I don't know what the word means. He added: We don't talk about ethics or morals because it's a very fine line. Everybody's ethics are different.

Hewlett said: That's typical Desmond, to be quite combative. I don't think he has done himself any favours but that's Richard Desmond -- what you see is what you get.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Keith Weir)