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
    +5

    Comment number 643.

    I don't agree with press getting involved in personal life at all and taking it too far by hacking phones, listen freedom of speech is allowed but so is the right to have privacy in your life. There needs be a correct legislation put into place with certain restrictions on the press

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 642.

    The press cannot be given another last chance saloon. This will signal to that actually, they can get away with it, just like their last chance in the 90s. Without independent statute backed regulation Cameron condemns us to go around this circle once again.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 641.

    We have been sold the pup again by DC and wasted millions on Leveson Inquiry
    DC can not afford to hit hard at the press just in case some of those text and stuff he sort legal advice on what he should and should not show to Leveson Inquiry come out in to open view

  • Comment number 640.

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

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 639.

    The only people who need to fear press regulations & compliance policies are those who abuse the system.

    The regulations proposed are reactionary regulations, regulations that come into effect once an article has been found to be non-compliant to policies. Policies are developed to provide publishers with cautionary information, to comply with the public's demands for ethical, factual reporting.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 638.

    Any form of State regulation of the press is completely unacaptable. It WILL be the thin end of the wedge, we WILL end up with something that can lean on the press and suppress that which they dont want us to know.

    MPs expences, the so called 'supergun affair' ...

    Those in favour should go live in Iran, they have an excellent press regulation process...

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 637.

    After all this has happened, with the massive weight of public opinion and with clear rational recommendations of an open judicial enquiry to back him up, is Cameron still frightened of the Murdochs?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 636.

    This shows that all decency has left British politics and the only interest of politicians is big business and those with lots of money. Cameron's position does not do a single thing for those people who had to endure so much because of our newspapers. It looks after big business and newspapers very nicely. Vote out the big business poodle as soon as possible!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 635.

    It's a home goal by a pathetic blustered out of touch PM.
    Who need's all the support they can muster, because deep down they are finished.
    The public will not support you or your murdoch empire & dictate to us whilst you punish the poor and at the same time riding us a mule.
    Cameron you have to be the WORST PM we have had, i thought Brown was bad.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 634.

    The House of Commons seeks to legislate in accordancce with the Leveson Inquiry. Is this the same House of Commons some of whose members were exposed by the British press to have made fraudulent expense claims? People in glasshouses should not be throwing stones.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 633.

    One of the key points about an enforced approach would be who is covered. Would celebrities tweeting away need to comply by the same rules as local newspapers (given they probably have more readers)?

    If legislation is there to regulate the process of regulation, it sounds benign (if it makes sense). If Cameron is doubting whether politicians could resist 'tweaking' later, is that unrealistic?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 632.

    Camerons comments just make me wonder what was agreed with News International to switch allegiance to the Tories, back just before the Election in 2010, that he feels he still must side with the press now Leveson has been published.
    An Independent Regulator, ie independent of political affiliation that can enforce criminal legal proceedings if necessary, can surely be the only way forward.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 631.

    If media commit a crime the should be dealt with by the law. If some folks are worried about rubbish being searched, the Crimes Act could be amended. But to expect an "independent" body appointed by politicians to yield value free outcomes is absurd. Currently in Australia, with none of the UK issues, the media is being restricted and cowed by socialist pollies who are "offended" Don't go there!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 630.

    Don't understand what the press have the cheek to complain about in this report. Under the rules they can report as much as they want truthfully about any matter that is in the public interest. I can only conclude they want to print malicious unfounded stories that can wreck lives - all in the name of gossip. To sell more papers?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 629.

    For a start, we should mandate that any time a newspaper is found to have printed something false - that they must print an apology on the front page of the paper. The apology should have a headline no smaller than the original story, and cover at least as many column inches.

    It's simply wrong that a front-page false accusation can be retracted with a footnote in the centre pages.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 628.

    Looks like the Press have got the Tories in their pockets. Did we really think there would be real change? Cameron is scared of what might happen. He should be brave enough to stand by what every one else in the Country believes should happen.

  • Comment number 627.

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

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 626.

    7.Polly

    I think you will find that it is the press that is manipulative, dodgy & dictate to the government what it wants. They have gone too far this time and something needs to be done. The reason why Cameron doesn't want to comply with the recommendations from the Leveson report because he is just as bad.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 625.

    It is debatable how much the press now contributes to a "free" society. The media unthinkingly amplify popular received wisdom and along with successive governments have poisoned UK politics. Leveson doesn't get to grips with how the need for and fear of the media distorts the political process, nor with the blurring of PR, manufactured drama, entertainment, distortion and tub-thumping popularism.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 624.

    The Culture Secretary says "the government hve thrown down the gauntlet" I bet the press are absolutely terrified. Now which u turn is this Mr Cameron? number 31?

 

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