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 474.

    strange how the policies are left wing with labour gov & right wing with tory gov. Perhaps the royals who are secretly running everything have split personalities?
    the politicians are our elected representatives. put some trust in them, let them regulate. if they fail us sack them. thats democracy. the press barons have to much protection, if thier stories are true they won't fear scrutiny

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    465 "Complain about the bias or quality all you like; as a consumer you can simply not buy them" - unless of course it's everyone's favourite left wing, PC propaganda machine, the BBC, then it's unavoidable licence tax time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    Has anyone actually read the Govt's proposed charter? I just have and to my mind it's a bit weak!

    Salient points though:
    Regulator members cannot be chosen by politicians
    Members cannot be serving politicians or press
    Duty to uphold freedom of speech
    Cannot prevent the publication of stories, only seek redress afterwards

    Where in there does it restrict the publication of anything true??

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    "However, papers are concerned a free service would lead to a surge of claims for damages"
    So they admit that they are consistently publishing nonsense, but demand the right to continue without penalty. Enough is enough!

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    Government: Former editors would be banned from serving on the "recognition panel".

    Relatively same should apply to ALL other regulators including banking & taxation.

    It is nonsensical & evidentially corruptable to provide & employ vested interest sector individuals "experts" to have so much influence in regulation & also in creating laws, ie tax laws with corruptable designer loop holes

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    Why are people desperate to scapegoat their own lack of integrity. It is you who keeps buying, and supposedly believing, the rants of a tabloid known to be thrift with accuracy.

    If you view people as so flawed as to need regulating, what makes you think that regulator will magically by immune from those same flaws?

    In begging for a regulator, are you a frog in "The Frogs Who Desired a King?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    453. billyhano
    441. paulmerhaba

    "Probably changed his spots after a few rejections from selection committees."

    I suppose we can all forgive and forget the things we do or say in our youth?

    Unless of course, it is the Daily Mail and Ralph Miliband.
    Sadly, DC and his son didn't escape either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    452.Sally the Rothbardian

    Funnily enough being 47 I don't go to school and haven't been for the best part of 30 years, so someone else did pay for me to go to school, I haven't met a child that paid for his own education yet, unless of course you are suggesting children should sell themselves to pay for education? The strong need to look after the weak, thus I am trying to help you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    @446 Mike

    The problem is that the papers that give their opinions in a very strong way, (I am thinking the Mail The Sun and The Mirror) are the best sellers.

    While the papers that tend to do investigative reports (Daily Telegraph expenses expose) have a short-term surge but still lose out to sensationalist tabloid gossip, or a very rare (e.g. Mail's front page on Stephen Lawrence Murders)

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    There are already laws against phone hacking, libel and every other immoral action of the newspapers in this scandal. Regulation of the press is a contradiction to our free society and i'm astonished at the willingness of the British people to allow yet another underpinning of our liberty to be swept away. Complain about the bias or quality all you like; as a consumer you can simply not buy them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    432.Sally the Rothbardian

    Like I say the more you utterly misrepresent what other people have said the more you demonstrate the very need for regulation.....!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    Any sympathy politicians & others might have had for the press proposal was destroyed by the Daily Fails Milliband article. Whilst the article itself wouldn't be covered by any of the proposed regulations it created the distinct impression that the press still can't control themselves & couldn't be trusted with the "looser" rules in their proposal

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    Don't see why people are hyperventilating about the press anyway, the press is dying. People should be more worried about the hilariously one-sided reporting of the BBC - it has been proven scientifically that people watching TV have a considerably lower level of ability to critically appraise a story that when they are reading it in print.

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    Self regulation doesn't work. Look at the banks or foxes in charge of the chicken coop.

    What is just as worrying is that fracking is self governed with radioactive dangers being passed as safe by drilling company employees with less than a days training. No worries though as the press doesn't report it - too busy hacking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    This news item, if it can be clasased as such is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. Both seem incapable of self-regulation. Freedom of the press might be worth an odd wobbler if only to out high-level corruption such as expenses, perjury and underhand surveilance practices etc. Remember who said: 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.' Practice what you preach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    So how 'democratic' is The Privy Council, with unelected Windsor family members pontificating over, deciding upon and sanctioning political issues, whilst claiming not to? Time it was scrapped isn't it? This country is crying out for a system of governance in which the PEOPLE are sovereign, not a bunch of class-specific multi-millionaire aristocrats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    Freedoms are seeming being eroded every day in Britain. Freedoms of self expression/ speech are sacrificed to political correctness, while religious liberties are regularly being marginalized. A free and independent press, even if repulsive at times, is the bulwark of political freedom in a liberal democracy. I guess Clegg will have to change the party name to Illiberal Democrats!

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    Pleased to see we seem to generally agree that freedom is a responsibility as well as a right; one that the current media has ignored and thus lost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    443. check the facts before talking nonsense. the privy council only has power now through one of it's commitees, the one known as the Cabinet, where our elected government makes the decisions we elected them to take. How much more democaractic would it be if "independant" journalists, judges etc ran things?

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    To most of the newspapers there is no such thing as Bad News. They publish what they want to get people reading them. People see headlines first and often do not read the actual article these are what is giving the press a relative bad time. Two inch high letters are quickly read than the 1/4 inch article letters. Curb the use of sensational headlines could help


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