Press 'need to act' after Leveson

 
Gerry McCann and Christopher Jeffries Gerry McCann and Chris Jeffries launched the Hacked Off campaign

The press have been urged to take action over Leveson Inquiry recommendations to regulate the newspaper industry.

Lord Justice Leveson called for a new independent watchdog - which he said should be underpinned by legislation.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller told the BBC "the gauntlet has been thrown down" to newspapers to outline how they would set up tough self-regulation instead.

A campaign has been launched calling on MPs to implement the proposals in full.

Leveson Inquiry witnesses Gerry McCann, the father of missing Madeleine McCann, and Christopher Jeffries, who was wrongly arrested for the murder of Joanna Yeates, launched the petition which is on the campaign group Hacked Off's website.

Lord Justice Leveson's 2,000-page report into press ethics, published on Thursday, found that press behaviour was "outrageous" and "wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people".

He said the press - having failed to regulate itself in the past - must create a new and tough regulator but it had to be backed by legislation to ensure it was effective.

The report exposed divisions in the coalition government, with Prime Minister David Cameron opposing statutory control, unlike his deputy Nick Clegg, who wants a new law introduced without delay.

Following cross-party talks on Thursday night - which will resume next week - the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will begin the process of drawing up a draft bill implementing the Leveson recommendations.

Proposed new press law

Would:

  • Create a process to "validate" the independence and effectiveness of the new self-regulation body
  • Validate a new process of independent arbitration for complainants - which would benefit both the public and publishers by providing speedy resolutions
  • Place a duty on government to protect the freedom of press

Would not:

  • Establish a body to regulate the press directly
  • Give any Parliament or government rights to interfere with what newspapers publish

It is thought the draft legislation may be ready within a fortnight.

The prime minister believes this process will only serve to highlight how difficult it is to try to legislate in a complex and controversial area while Labour and the Lib Dems think it will demonstrate the opposite.

But the BBC's Norman Smith says Labour sources fear the government will produce draft legislation written in such a way as to discredit the proposals - "like something the Stasi [East German secret police] had written".

Gauntlet thrown

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mrs Miller said: "Our concern is that we simply don't need to have that legislation to achieve the end of objectives and in drafting out this piece of legislation what we are going to be demonstrating is that it wouldn't be a simple two-clause bill."

She said Conservative ministers felt that legislation "would actually give the opportunity in the future to bring into question the ability of Parliament to stay out of the issue of free press and difficult for Parliament to not have a statutory framework on which they could hang further bits of legislation".

She went on: "At this point what we should be focusing in on is the fact that the gauntlet has been thrown down to the industry.

Analysis

Government sources say they expect to produce a draft "Leveson" bill within a fortnight.

However they expect the draft bill to underline their argument that any legislation would be much more unwieldy and extensive than envisaged by supporters of Leveson. They believe the draft bill will support their view that legislation would therefore be a threat to the freedom of the press.

Instead, ministers want the newspaper industry to come forward with their own plans for regulation "within months." It's also being made clear that if the industry fails to agree on an acceptable revised package..then "the legislative stick remains an option."

Earlier, Culture Secretary Maria Miller said alongside the issue of legislation, she had "very grave concerns" about some of the other details in the Leveson report -including on the role of Ofcom and rules on data protection.

Labour sources say they fear the government will produce draft legislation that looks like "something the Stasi has written" in an effort to discredit the Leveson proposals

"The press industry need to be coming back with their response to the Leveson report. Their response to how they're going to put in place a self-regulatory body that adheres to the Leveson principles and that is what I want to see moving forward swiftly."

Many of Friday's newspapers have praised Mr Cameron's opposition to law-backed regulation.

But Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger told the BBC "a bit of statute" was a price worth paying for an effective new system of regulation and that he believed the press could "live with most of" the Leveson proposals.

Mr Rusbridger, who revealed that he spoke to other editors on Thursday night, said: "I think about 80% of it is right and can be agreed on.

"It is right that is is open, that it is fair, that it's got sanctions, that it can investigate... that it's not picked from amongst the old cosy club."

But the father of Madeleine McCann - the young girl who went missing in Portugal in 2007 - said he would have liked the report to have gone further.

"Clearly the public want it, there's been a judicial review and I think the recommendations should be implemented.

"There's no good reason why they shouldn't be. That's my view and I think it's the view of all the victims," he said.

Mr McCann, who was the subject of what he called "unbelievably damaging" newspaper reports that suggested he and his wife killed Madeleine, added: "The press has been given enough chances, and in my opinion Lord [Justice] Leveson has given them another chance to put a structure in place which they are happy with."

Labour leader Ed Miliband has joined Mr Clegg in supporting a new press law.

He said many of the victims of sections of the press will be feeling "utterly betrayed" by the prime minister.

"I am going to stand up for people like the McCanns and the Dowlers who have been appallingly treated by sections of the press and who put their faith in David Cameron, put their faith in the Leveson Inquiry, and who are frankly I think astonished by what the prime minister has done," he said.

Mrs Miller is meeting members of the Hacked Off campaign on Friday afternoon and will discuss the position taken by Conservative ministers.

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 943.

    Cameron has zero credibility calling for no legal sanctions! His ex Press Officer, and his best friend from the pony club have both been charged. Someones seemingly organised stunt to remove Clegg from the BSB takeover deal and put a more friendly Minister in charge, and the PMs closeness to the press barons should bar him from even opening his mouth on the subject. Same goes for Lib/Lab leaders.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 942.

    I think that the cheapest and best overall situation in this matter, would be for the Press to retain their own Complaints Commission - BUT - it should be headed by 2 Official Legal Judges - paid for by the Press - NOT by our Taxes.

    This could be set up immediately - and should satisfy all sides of the argument...

  • Comment number 941.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 940.

    @933.paulmerhaba
    Hillsborough victims & their families, the Royal family, the long list of celebrities who won libel cases, anyone remotely connected with a celeb.
    --
    They all have 'used' the press.

    That does not justify the vicious personal attacks and intrusions by the Press. The Press are there 24/7 in some cases chasing them down streets, on motorbikes in order to provoke reactions.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 939.

    The press has shown itself to be unworthy of trust.Why should anyone believe that they will take self-regulation seriously not simply move on to the next transgression? They need to be answerable to a body other than themselves until they earn real credibility. Independent monitoring is the least they could expect and they'd better learn to count their blessings not witter on about lost freedoms.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 938.

    915.Rodders AKA Dave

    Tell me about it. Every day is a Bogglefest when you look around! ;)

    I'm off to cook dinner and drown my sorrows in a nice glass of wine before they slap more tax on it to somehow prevent lager louts & drunken wenches throwing up and fighting in the streets. Haven't yet worked out how me (who does neither) paying extra is supposed to stop them but I'm just a pleb..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 937.

    @925.VikingView
    People in this country have got start voting with their feet. Otherwise the corporations will walk all over us. We are more powerful than we realise!"

    But not motivated to do enough about it. The UK public needs to galvanise itself to stand up to this and fight back because we are being treated like cattle by the powers that be.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 936.

    We've definitely need a Minister for Propaganda if the Leveson recommendations are fully implemented.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 935.

    of course the Tory government will not bit the hand the feeds then and graces them with rightwing media positive coverage why would they if you thought that plebs could get protection you are very wrong just look at the recent payouts to prominent Tory's who were briefly mentioned in the same way many innocent ORDINERY people do every day at the hands of the rabid rightwing press and they nothing

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 934.

    Hacked Off should stop saying that the British public are all crying out for Leveson to be fully implemented. they have just over 15k signatures on their petition - which at last count was not the entire population of this country.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 933.

    928. JPublic
    2 MINUTES AGO
    @41MrSBaldrick
    Following the disgraceful coverage of Milly Dowler, Chris Jefferies, Madeleine McCann.

    Colin Stag, Freddie Mercury just before his death,National lottery winners, Hillsborough victims & their families, the Royal family, the long list of celebrities who won libel cases, anyone remotely connected with a celeb.
    --
    They all have 'used' the press.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 932.

    923.Wandwaggler

    Yes, but if Nick Clegg had any guts he wouldn't have got in cahoots anyway with Tories who wish to grind down the poorest, the elderly & the disabled while at the same time dishing out tax cuts to the richest. He's thereby helped them to do their worst. Traitor.
    Oh yes, & he wouldn't have ditched his own pledge about student fees either. He's beyond comtemptible, imo.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 931.

    924. You're preaching to the converted - that's the issue. I worked in health education. Like Mark Twain said, the problem isn't that people don't know things - it's that they 'know' so many things that are simply untrue.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 930.

    Self regulation, whether of the press, medics, lawyers, MPs or any so called professional does not work as too many vested interests prevent true regulation. All that is required is for a set of standards to be agreed (they are already in place for most professions including the press) and for those standards to be enforced by a totally independent body with REAL power to punish transgressions

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 929.

    This is the end of David Cameron's reputation for leadership. Too weak to implement the recommendations of his own inquiry, too weak to stand up for the majority, too weak to say no to the press barons.

    Nice knowing you, Dave.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 928.

    @41MrSBaldrick
    Following the disgraceful coverage of Milly Dowler, Chris Jefferies, Madeleine McCann.

    Colin Stag, Freddie Mercury just before his death,National lottery winners, Hillsborough victims & their families, the Royal family, the long list of celebrities who won libel cases, anyone remotely connected with a celeb. The list is long but Cameron still want to protect Press freedom

  • Comment number 927.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 926.

    #853, #826 and others.. "give a future 'extreme' government more power" .. not completely a red herring on Cameron's part as he's speaking from a deeply held personal viewpoint, having enacted legislation which stops us from voting him and the Tories out before 2015.Unless of course Nick and the LDs get some bottle and force a confidence vote. Please.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 925.

    To all of you unhappy with the press - don't buy newspapers. I don't any more - it's all on-line.

    People in this country have got start voting with their feet. Otherwise the corporations will walk all over us. We are more powerful than we realise!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 924.

    The thing about Govt & the grotty end of the press is that they like to think you're stupid. "Bread & circuses" has now become cheap poor quality pizzas & dreadful tabloid papers printing little in depth news of worth but lots of trivial nonsense about third rate supposed 'celebs'.

    Don't fall for it. And don't fall for the line that it's imperative for 'freedom' that they carry on as usual.

 

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