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 514.

    I no longer understand why anyone reads a newspaper. News!!! Where?

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

    Have you reasd "The Road to Serfdom"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    There are two things at play here.
    a) The press don't want to "report" news, they want to set agendas, tell us what to think, tell us what to be scared of. They are too full of spin, blatant untruths and scaremongering.
    b) MPs smell blood and a chance for more control over people's lives. MPs crave power and a press clampdown gives them more of it.
    Payback time for the expenses scandal..

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    "Sally the Rothbardian
    Which are you?"

    As always, putting forward arguments based on strawmen, false dichotomies and syllogistic fallacies as you constantly do may make amusing reading, but cannot be construed as serious contributions to a debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    If we have a complete free press what was the point in spending millions on Leveson we all seen what free press self regulation of press as done over decades,phone & pc hacking invade anyone privacy & most is not in the public interest They do,say print what like they got autonomy on everything . look at how digraceful the right press have been last 3 1/2 years

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    I think the press should have the same free market like finanace in the USA - IF you play foul they come and escort you in handcuffs out of the office and you get 20 years. If that would work in the UK the press (and finance) can have a free market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    495.Sally the Rothbardian
    I can assure you that intellectually you are weak which led me to comment about trying to help you. state schools as with all schools are good and bad, such a shame you appear to have gone to a poor one and not paid attention in lessons.I was lucky and went to a good one. As for this subject we need to protect our citizens from the criminals in the press.

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    @ 494 Peter Buck

    The Telegraph (Barclay Bros), The Indy (Lebedev) and The Express (Desmond) are probably richer than Murdoch. I also doubt that he's a member of the Morning Star collective, or is a member of the Scott Trust, the charity that ensures the Grauniad not paying tax.

    "Scandinavia, for one, has a 'freer' press than we do"? Sweden has ONE National paper!

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    In the UK we have a non-biased news network on television, which is great as we dont need to attend to fox news and other news sites from america, instead we have biased news papers which will take a side.

    I think news papers should be monitored for this reason

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    You either have a free press, or you don't.
    You either trust yourself to know give little credit to a tabloid with a history of being thrift with accuracy; Or
    You admit you are incapable of such critical thinking, and outsource that to a bureaucrat to think critically for you, and tell you what's true.

    Which are you?

    492.Emperor Wibble
    Are you familiar with "The Road to Serfdom?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    The day newspapers revert to being a source of news instead of tittle tattle, spin and innuendo, is the day they will gain my respect. I am all for responsible investigative journalism but totally against the "rake through the bins in case we find something we can write about" type. Press needs to report news, not manufacture it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    @493.Davey Trasker
    If you think a ludicrous & badly written hatchet job on an individual counts as valid free speech then you've been reading the British press too long. outright lies are not opinion, they're just lies, a pecularity of our libel laws allow it if the victim is dead

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    The press abused their position and acted illegally. They are still abusing their position re Ed Milibands family thereby showing the gutter press is still there and still in business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    472. as I said, trust our elected representatives to make the law and set the regulations. because they want to avoid charges of bias or political control they have proposed an exceptionally fair and even handed system of regulation. Only the press are against what the representatives of the people have agreed. It may not be fashionable to say it but overall our democratic system works.

  • rate this

    Comment number 500.

    Our 'free' press can't be trusted to tell the truth. Government controlled press will probably lie also. Take home message is either way, don't believe what you read in the papers, they're all liars!

  • rate this

    Comment number 499.

    What did the press think what will happend just after the Ed story, which we can see now that they have learned nothing?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 498.

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

    Says it all about self regulation IMO.
    Ex Barclays Chairman who left during crisis was Head of Libor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 497.

    @492.Emperor Wibble

    The reason the country is the mess that it is partly because nobody understands the true cost or worth of anything anymore, whether it's because of cheap goods due to exploited foreign labour and resources, or whether it's because of the socialist society of indentured servitude we now live under.

    Don't conflate the two things, they're different.

  • rate this

    Comment number 496.

    @ 481 Pirate99

    Before you start thinking that the Privy Council is at the heart of some conspiracy you should look at the members.

    Do you really think that 'old-school' socialist republican Privy Councillors - such as Tony Benn, Ben Ainsworth Joel Barnett & Alun Gwynne Jones - would keep quiet if something was amiss?

  • Comment number 495.

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


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