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
    +4

    Comment number 603.

    531.modharry

    At least you're not a News Of the World reader !

    We'll have to agree to disagree about blaming the consumer. Never underestimate the value of the £ in someone's pocket. The people on the street CAN make a difference if they act together.
    Look at the people of Liverpool and how much they cost Murdoch when they stood up for their principles and boycotted the Sun.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 602.

    I think that if statuary safeguards are not brought in the conservatives at the next general election will have a lot more to worry about than UKip the hope that this will fade into history is a big mistake you only have to look at the Libdems to see what a broken promise has done to them and I would be very disapointed if a major online campaign is not instigated to bring this lot to account

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 601.

    Re 585.FeedBack

    "Leveson is a political smoke screen. Management failed, not regulation. Editors & senior executives didn't control their staff. What in Leveson will stop a repeat of "I didn't know it was happening" & "I'm sorry but I didn't look"
    Is this a rreference to Jeremy HUNT(formerly min of media and now wrecker of NHS and his 'it wasn't my fault' line?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 600.

    Leveson is not calling for "state licensing of the Press". He is calling for publishers to be obliged to contribute to and respect the authority of an independent body with teeth to make its decisions effective.

    It's not a "threat to freedom of speech", it is reinforcing anyone's right not to be subjected to unwarranted unfair or illegal treatment by an industry with power but no morals.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 599.

    But would statutary regulation put DC and several other Government Ministers, Officers, into Criminal Court for their past behaviours??

    This appears to be the big question and the one that they are so desperate to avoid

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 598.

    I'm not saying I know the answer, but I do agree with Cameron that freedom of speech must be protected - otherwise even HYS will be under threat!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 597.

    As i stated before, many right wing nut-jobs are afraid so you should, it will be you hanging from the lampost's
    Im not left or right, but I DO NOT TRUST the right wing in anyway
    I suppose that makes me left in principle then?
    What's next im a communist?
    What shocks me is the audacity of the right, to bury their own greed that caused the whole financial problem in the first place.
    Leveson is right

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 596.

    The whole "let the lunatics run the asylum" approach to the media clearly isn't working. We don't have a 'free' press anyway, we in fact have one of the most closed presses in the Western world. I challenge anyone to actually start a national newspaper next year and see whether it lasts six months before either being forced out by the current cartels or is bought by Murdoch. Legislate now, please.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 595.

    Cameron is not opposed to press regulation - he has already said that the status quo is not an option. He is right to tread carefully when statutory regulation is on the agenda. Miliband is playing the usual game of populist opportunism.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 594.

    Cameron has acknowledged the freedom of the media barons to do what they like: I imagine there is some practical politics here. It should rather be a matter for national shame that we have gutter newspapers quite so disgusting as we do. It's ironic, too, that 'freedom' allows the hacking of a murdered schoolgirl's 'phone, but not the free passage of students on a peaceful demonstration.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 593.

    David Cameron has shown his true colours. All the citizens of this country are regulated by laws yet the PRESS are exempt. Why?
    Did they get you into power and you are terrified if you rule against them they will get you out? Who else can they support as all the other parties are Pro the report and legislate.
    Your word means nothing David.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 592.

    I do hope the No.10 Press Office are monitoring these comments and making it clear to the mandarins and politicians just exactly what is the strength of feeling over this issue.

    WE WANT A PROPERLY REGULATED PRESS!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 591.

    The press in the country is a shambles - even so called quality papers like the Times print misleading headlines such as "100 Adult cod in the North sea" (wording may not be exact but I am not a journalist).
    This very poor quality journalism harms people (in this case in the cod industry).
    The Times should be fined for such a report - very easy to get right but too lazy to bother.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 590.

    Please, please - can the BBC get this subject into proportion? It is by no stretch of the imagination the most important thing happening here or anywhere. In fact, it concerns a tiny fraction of the people and a few politicians, so-called celebrities and a few unfortunates, and nobody else. No-one I know had the remotest interest in the inquiry, or the prattle of reporters about it.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 589.

    This is 3rd day in a row that this story has been available for comment. (BBC web-site-reading) public opinion should be clear by now.

    Why no availability to comment on disgraceful British Govt abstention on Palestinian vote at the UN?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 588.

    "we should be wary of legislating for a few high profile situations without thinking about the unintended impact on potentially thousands of others. Is it any wonder for example that many Labour MPs want to legislate against the press, who exposed the expenses scandal which brought jail for several of their 'comrades'?"

    Finally some sense! Couldn't agree more!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 587.

    554. Eddy from Waring
    15 MINUTES AGO
    What a shame there's no thread to congratulate Labour for defeating UKIP, with an increased share of the vote, in Rotherham.

    I can't help thinking this report publication was timed to coincide.
    --
    Stunning turnout again Eddy, can't help feeling politicians should be as embarrassed about this as they are about Leveson's findings.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 586.

    Is there currently a ban on reporting what's going on in Iceland?

    After sacking their government and now writing a new constitution these guys seem to have seen the light and are opting for a true democracy.
    Greece the father of democracy, the West the corrupter of democracy, Iceland the "I found democracy in the gutter and will restore it to its rightful place."

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 585.

    Leveson is a political smoke screen. Management failed, not regulation. Editors & senior executives didn't control their staff. What in Leveson will stop a repeat of "I didn't know it was happening" & "I'm sorry but I didn't look" excuses being repeatedly trouped out by over-paid "executives"? Unless regulation hits senior executives they will manipulate such excuses over and over again!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 584.

    notice how the BBC like to use the term newspapers.
    At the heart of this problem is not the newspapers but the journalists who have no morals ethics or concern for their fellow man

 

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