Politicians 'reject' press plan for regulation


One minute catch up: Press regulation where are we now?

Senior politicians have rejected the newspaper industry's version of a royal charter setting up a press regulator, the BBC's Newsnight has reported.

A source said a sub-committee of the Privy Council, containing Lib Dem and Tory cabinet ministers, thought the proposals were "flawed".

But sub-committee chair Danny Alexander insisted no decision had been made.

The full Privy Council is also looking at an alternative plan backed by politicians and campaigners.

Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, will make a statement on press regulation in the House of Commons later.

But the full Privy Council is not expected to meet and announce its decision on the press proposal until Wednesday. Its decision on the plan put forward by politicians and campaigners should be announced on 30 October.

Press regulation options are being considered in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry, which was set up in July 2011 after it emerged journalists working for the now-closed News of the World had hacked into the mobile phone of murdered Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Politicians and the press have been at odds over the details of a royal charter - a formal document used to establish and lay out the terms of a body - to underpin the regulator.

The government's proposals published in March have cross-party backing and the support of campaign group Hacked Off.

There are a series of key differences between the industry's plan for press regulation and that agreed by politicians and campaigners.

Rejection 'likely'

Newsnight's political editor Allegra Stratton was told Privy Council members felt proposals for self-regulation put forward by newspapers did not meet the requirements of Lord Justice Leveson's report.

Mr Alexander, who told the BBC the sub-committee met on Monday and the full Privy Council will meet on Wednesday to consider the press proposal, said there were a "few remaining" details to be decided - but insisted "no final decision has been made".

But ministers "do look set to reject" the form of regulation put forward by newspapers, BBC political editor Nick Robinson said.

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New press regulator: Proposals compared
UK newspapers

Political involvement:

  • Government: Royal Charter could be amended by Parliament, but only if there was a two-thirds majority in both houses
  • Newspapers: Parliament could not block or approve any future changes to regulation. Instead the regulator, trade bodies and the regulator's panel would have to agree to changes

"Recognition" panel:

  • Government: Former editors would be banned from serving on the "recognition panel", which would decide whether newspapers were being regulated properly
  • Newspapers: Former editors would be allowed to serve and there would be a requirement for at least one member to have newspaper industry experience

Appointments process:

  • Government: Appointments committee to consist of four members, none of whom could be a serving editor or MP
  • Newspapers: Want one of the four members to "represent the interests of relevant publishers"

Corrections and apologies:

  • Government: Regulator to have the power to demand prominent corrections and apologies from publishers and impose £1m fines. Regulator board would "direct" the nature, extent and placement of corrections
  • Newspapers: Regulator to have the power to ensure "up-front corrections, with inaccuracies corrected fully and prominently" and to impose £1m fines for "systematic wrongdoing". However, the board would "require" rather than "direct" in relation to apologies


  • Government: A free arbitration service would be provided for victims and a fast complaints system would be established to ensure all individuals could afford to pursue action against publishers
  • Newspapers: An arbitration service would offer "a speedy and inexpensive alternative to the libel courts, subject to the successful conclusion of a pilot scheme". However, papers are concerned a free service would lead to a surge of claims for damages
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The Privy Council sub-committee consists of four Tories and two Lib Dems - and both parties have been critical of the press proposals, he added.

The full Privy Council is expected to endorse the recommendation of the sub-committee.

Steve Hewlett, presenter of BBC Radio 4's The Media Show, told Newsnight that newspaper publishers felt the process had been far from transparent.

He said: "People I have spoken to are furious and are now considering whether there might be a legal challenge to this decision by the Privy Council."

Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor of the Sun, said the news was not a shock.

"It's what we'd been given fairly clear clues would happen," he said.

Trevor Kavanagh The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh said the news was not a shock

"I think it has to be seen as a great victory for the forces of oppression of a free press - Hacked Off in particular - and the politicians who have gone along for the ride."

Brian Cathcart, executive director of Hacked Off, said the press's plan had been a "delaying manoeuvre" by the big national newspapers.

"The problem with the papers is that they do not want to deal fairly with complaints," he said.

Mr Cathcart said there was a "rare unanimity" in Parliament on this issue, and the press was refusing to compromise "like an errant child on the naughty step with his fingers in his ears".

He said only the press stood against the consensus in politics and the public which said: "We want Parliament's royal charter - Leveson's royal charter - and we want it now."

Earlier, Gerry McCann said the newspaper industry's plans for press regulation were "a gentlemen's club agreement" and should be rejected by politicians.

The father of missing Madeleine McCann said the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry were the "minimum acceptable".

Mr McCann and his family were subject to intense press attention after Madeleine went missing while they were on holiday in Portugal in 2007.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    There is no doubt that the press behave badly on may occasions. They have a right to do it - we have a right not to read it.

    Perhaps we should vote with our feet and not support newspapers that behave badly.

    Censorship is never a good thing, particularly where potitians are concerned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    #1 GodSon83

    I didn't realise Milly Dowler and her family were celebrities. Sadly, the press can't be trusted to choose how they're regulated, in the same way criminals don't manage prisons and the police shouldn't investigate themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The press have already had self regulation for decades and we've seen how well that works out.

    Say what you want on the front page and print an apology on page 27 under the advert for the Premium Rate phone lines!

    And that's before you even enter the realms of outright criminal acts, done at their behest!

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    It's time the newspapers in Britain grew up and started reporting real news stories from across the UK and the world, no-one is remotely interested in what celebrities do with their lives, it's a sad state of affairs when people buy newspapers to read about celebs rather than stories affecting the world, newspapers like The Sun, The Star, The Mirror, Daily Mail and Daily Record should be ashamed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    There's an easy answer to this one;

    Those newspapers who weren't caught with their trousers down, because they actually had ethical standards, are in favour of the proposals by Leverson/Parliament...

    Those newspapers who committed all the offenses that led to the scandal are against the ideas...

    Tough call? Not for one minute - ethics before profit, it really is that simple.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    When the so called 'free press' is instrumental in helping to decide which party is elected to government - then its not really 'free'.

    Like bankers, journalists are learning that society is disapproving of money driven gains at the expense of people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    The government only wants regulation if it is the sole controller. In other words, what they don't know won't hurt them and with the advent of the expansion of the intelligence service, these are very worrying times indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Only Politicians are allowed to Police themselves. They are doing such a good job too

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Do we allow the press to self regulate, or do we allow the government to regulate what the press can say?

    So commercially manipulated propoganda versus government propoganda?

    Tough call.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I'm for freedom of expression but I also want proper redress for those who are victims of poor journalism and punishments for journalists and newpapers etc who breach the rules. Let's get on with this, everyone seems to have forgotten this started due to part of the newspaper industry acting illegally. Excuses be damned, get your house in order.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    There is nothing ‘free’ about a press industry which has a long history of corruption and lies and which acts as the political mouthpiece for a handful of unscrupulous individuals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    What were the cookie monsters views on this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The Daily Mail readers breath a sigh of relief.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Welcome to Nazi germany where the gov want to censor us and protect themselves a "celebrities"

    No thanks ill rather keep freedom of speech and rather see celebritie cry public life being reported on


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