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 494.

    447. Dr_Adam

    I agree with you in that we shouldn't over-regulate the press but I think that if you dig deep enough you will find that the majority of our newspaper groups are owned by the Murdoch clan and are not, as you implied, controlled by none different entities.
    Scandinavia, for one, has a 'freer' press than we do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 493.

    8 Minutes ago

    Any sympathy politicians & others might have had for the press proposal was destroyed by the Daily Fails Milliband article.'

    I agree. Why should a the press in a free country be allowed to state an opinion on anything? Unless it is my opinion of course. Then it's alright - obviously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    432. What makes education free? Do the teachers work for free? Do the builders build for free? Are the construction materials free? No.
    It's faulty logic to assume if government didn't supply something, it wouldn't exist.
    Absolutely. Education and healthcare should be private - so the rich can stay rich and healthy, and the poor can work the fields until they die at 30. What century is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    Simple! you either have a free press or you dont! If you choose a free press/media, then you must accept the conséquences of reading things you don't like! Alternatively a non free press/media means it would be subject to censorship, usually by Government trying to hide something! sorry, thinking it's best for us , the public, not to know! pay yer money, take yer choice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    @458.Niall Firinne
    ..A free and independent press,

    Its not that free & independant,
    highly partisan with an agenda of harrassing people & breaching their human rights to satisfy what it believes is the publics desire for malicious gossip doesn't really square with free & independant & these proposed regulations don't really lend themselves to political control

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    6 Minutes ago

    The bbc left wing, if anything of course it is right wing. And those calling for change may well not buy any newspapers, as their combined sales do not equal a tenth of the population let alone a half, maybe a majority of the 9/10ths want them to change, that would be called democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    The press are about the only remaining challenge to the statist leftist establishment and to the BBC who have been trying to muzzle them for years so that they can carry on using tax payers money to fund their propaganda.

    So bad news for the BBC and for the Stalinists in the Labour party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    I repeat. Paul Dacre (Daily Mail editor). CHAIRMAN of the Editors Code of Conduct Committee.

    Says it all about self regulation IMO.

  • Comment number 486.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    450. Lightmare

    Just curious. You obviously hate the "biased" BBC and everything it stands for. So why, when there are thousands of other news sites and millions of places to comment, do you choose the BBC?
    Can I suggest you try Fox News. It feel it may satisfy your opinion of what an unbiased news broadcaster should be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    The press broke already existing laws. Regulation of a free press would signal the end of British liberty; i'm disgusted that so many people seem to be frothing at the mouth at the prospect; are you that brainwashed!? You are free not to buy a newspaper if you do not like the publication. Britain would be a disgrace to the free world if it were to bring in regulation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    I have never met a journalist I liked or trusted, but I like and trust politicians even less. I'd be happy with regulation only if were administered by people with absolutely no connection to UK political influence, however indirect. The prize for politicians to manipulate a regulated press is too much for them to resist.

    Maybe hand supervision of our press regulation to Singapore....

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.


    Sadly many people don't think about what they are presented with, they believe whatever is put before them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    456. col "check the facts". You check the 'facts'. You can't of course, because the Windsors' involvement is enshrined in secrecy; they will entertain no scrutiny or judicial enquiry; they have exempted themselves from the FOI Act and Privy Council meetings are unminuted. Arguably you have no idea whatsoever who influences what.

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    The Tories are very good at introducing their own agenda using public outrage. For example, "Big Society" is just a way of getting people to do work for free. "We're all in this together" is just "we're going to fund tax cuts for the rich even when it won't make any difference to the economy".

    We must ensure that any press regulation imposed is genuinely fair and serves its intended purpose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    ToryBoy @414
    Rather recruiting to humanity

    Real democracy, and the 'free press' that we deserve, requires overwhelming adult agreement on equal partnership. Whether the argument is led by the most clever, or the most moral, or a phalanx of hybrids, remains to be seen. The alternative being 'more of the same', accelerating towards extinction, perhaps we 'ordinary' might speak?

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    We are all free to decide what we subscribe to, maybe it's time for the public to make more considered choices, before parting with their money?

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    The press is only interested in sensationalism, and that includes the BBC. I frequently listen to an interview on the radio or TV and the subsequent analysis either on air or on the website and wonder if the reporter and I were actually listening to the same interview. Exaggerate anything that might appear divisive or sensational, but nothing like the truth, and the same applies to the newspapers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    It has been said that a society gets the media it deserves.
    All our media in UK is woefully corrupt, sensationalist, and hypocritical. Even the BBC political editor is an open socialist.
    The press have said they would self regulate, well best they do it before it is used as an excuse for them being censored by the govt'. Media - the ball is in your court!

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    Emperor Wibble
    1 Minute ago

    "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!#

    The problem is people make thousands of complaints against newspapers which are entirely without foundation.


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