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
    +3

    Comment number 323.

    @316 - you're wrong, It is the entire country outside Westminster that oppose the disgusting practices of the press, and not just "lefties".

    Hope this helps.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 322.

    I agree with Nick. Now excuse me while I lie down in a darkened room until I feel better.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 321.

    Whats point of Leveson if not sticking with his recommendations. MP's yelled for an inquiry.

    Cameron could be playing a dangerous game sounding though he's protecting the papers when he wants to implement Leveson, thus letting others do the dirty work.

    Thanks to the press we learned the expense scandal etc., but what about the victims? Thoughtful considerations not inquiries should have ensued.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 320.

    @282: EXCELLENT COMMENT. That's the Tories in a nutshell!
    They're doing the same with the NHS.

    Free press or totalitarian state? FALSE DICHOTOMY...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 319.

    It should not be beyond the wit of legislators to build in any necessary safe guards from political interference in new laws governing newspaper. I suspect that those tasked with doing so by Cameron might fabricate some possible issues into there legislation in order to bolster his position however.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 318.

    We still need a proper privacy law where the press have to reveal they are about to publish and prove in closed court that it is really in the public interest.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 317.

    Maybe Cameron thinks the press need a second chance. He gave COULSON a second chance.

    LOL LOL LOL

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 316.

    Looks like the Flaky Liberal do Gooders and their Luvvie Acting mates are sitting at their PC PC's today, Anything Anti Leveson is being marked down quicker than a Double Left footed Dancer on Strictly!!!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 315.

    297.Martin
    Criminal charges are being brought in relation to the illegal activities of some journalist so why do we need any further regulation
    ==
    Because some of the odious things they do are not illegal and also taking legal action is expensive.

    The regulation proposed is to enforce a body which will promote best practice and ethics in the press, just like MANY other professions.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 314.

    A risk to freedom of speech is the biggest misnomer being touted by the press. This is not about freedom of speech its about freedom of vested interests ie Murdoch and all the other corporations which own our press. Why are the tories and RW media so up in arms at this? They know which side their bread's buttered.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 313.

    Remember, regardless of the outcome of all this, there is something we can all do. Stop buying newspapers that encourage muck-raking. The only things these greedy media barons understand are money & power. Stop giving them money and they'll have far less power.
    The people of Liverpool did it - so can everyone else.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 312.

    why the editor would chose number 35 as one of his picks is beyond me....

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 311.

    Why do we need any significant changes? Self regulation of press ethics and the current legal framework are just fine.

    - Rupert Murdoch acted swiftly and closed down the NoW.
    - Journalists are now facing convictions for their actions.

    Isn't that enough?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 310.

    It would seem that being too close to Cleggy has caused 'Call Me Dave' to be infected by the tendency to retreat from a promise.

    Quote DC: Unless it is brainless, we will implement the recommendation of Leveson in full.

    Either Cameron thinks Leveson is brainless, of some Cleggy traits have rubbed off on him. I wonder which it is.

    Dear Rupert still loves him, though. Wonder why that might be....

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 309.

    1) Has anybody apologised to the Whistle-blower in the Data Commissioner’s Office who was sacked for revealing the extent of Phone-Hacking in Operation Motorman?
    2) Do the Sussex police still outsource its phone records retrievals as they did in the Dowler case?
    3) Who told the mobile phone companies to sit on their hands and not inform ALL the victims of Phone-Hacking?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 308.

    All those claiming Cameron is keeping his friends in the press happy need to remember how close to the media Blair was and Brown wanted to be. There is a real irony to me in the Tories wanting to avoid state press regulation, and Labour (who stopped being socialist a LONG time ago) the Liberals being for legal regulation. Some of the old school Labs & Libs must be turning in their graves.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 307.

    Once again a government has an independent inquiry and ignore the trickier recommendations. Oh that people would vote for politicians with brains and backbones and who aren't all part of the old boys network. (it makes for a great fantasy)

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 306.

    Cameron has shown himself to be spineless and amoral. A social psychopath incapable of understanding the damage these vermin bring to ordinary people. This will follow him into the ballot box make no mistake. Meanwhile the best thing we can all do is not to buy any more newspapers, boycott ALL newspapers and see how clever they are when they are out of work.

  • rate this
    +109

    Comment number 305.

    The press has vilified and victimised thousands of innocent individuals over the years, not celebrities or politicians, just ordinary folk.

    When the press paint a target on your back, it's open season on your family and your friends. No restraint, no remorse, no contrition. They are a feral mob.

    The press must be independently regulated, and there must be statutory requirement that they comply.

  • rate this
    +69

    Comment number 304.

    Self-regulation by any organisation is ridiculous. There needs to be someone independent who carries a big stick.

 

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