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 554.

    Every regulation asked for, and the expensive bureaucrat to enforce it, is an admission that you are incapable of making decisions for yourself.

    "It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere."

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    This nonsense is all due to a few over ambitious journos who hacked into some high ranking celebs voicemail. An 'inquiry' that gave millions of taxpayers money to the legal system. Now get ready for round two with Ms Brookes et al.

    If only the mobile phone providers had proper security on their voicemail access, none of this expense would've been necessary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    Instead of regulating the press, we should regulate the six corporations that control 90% of the media. GE, Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Timewarner and CBS. In 1983 this share was owned by 50 companies.


  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    I agree, a market regulates better than a bureaucrat ever does.
    Hayek promotes market regulation, particularly in his "spontaneous order".

    They have press regulation in North Korea too, whose destination the lessons from The Road to Serfdom warns us against.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    UK is the worst anywhere (PISA) for government regulation on schools- it's killed our academic standards. Same with health and many other areas where most of (more successful) Europe trusts professionals.

    Why is it that when it comes to bankers and media barons who have spectactularly proved their lack of care and responsibility- that we have the LEAST regulation on Europe?
    MP's in pockets?

  • Comment number 549.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    No479 All for All,

    'Recruiting for humanity'

    Whatever equal partnership is it has a massive task on its hands.

    Do you think the 'Press Barons', corporate gangsters, thieving Wall Street and 'City' bankers, and their lackeys on Capitol Hill and in Westminster would allow their power and wealth to be redistributed without an armed battle?

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    I'm all for a free press but there's no denying they've been in the gutters for sometime. The daily Mail's approach to besmirching a dead man simply highlights the fact that, despite being in very bad taste, if they can do that to the leader of the Labour party, what can they do to the rest of us. this is a mess of their own making

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    Keep the Government away from the press. No-one forces us to buy papers we dont like or disagree with.
    The press isnt perfect, neither is the government. The free press is absolutely key in keeping government waste & scandal in the public eye.
    I guess thats why the politians want it gagged.

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.


    'The Royal Charter enshrines Press freedom while at the same time providing a FREE arbitration service for the public and the ability to direct the prominence of apolologies and corrections.'

    It doesn't enshrine press freedom at all. It is state licencing. Also you clearly have no idea how many nonsensical press complaints newspapers have to deal with already.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    If you want to blame anyone for the proliferation of tabloids such as the Sun and The Sport, look no further than your friendly White Van Man. If he doesn't get his daily fix of "PHWOARRR!!! Look at those!!", he's not a happy man. And I say this as someone who has owned a white van but will not buy a tabloid newspaper on account that I want to know what's really going on in the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    532.Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells
    1 Minute ago

    I would suggest Sir Winston Churchill did a fair job of running the country and depending on your political persuasion there would be others. Gambling tobacco sales etc are regulated and they are better than with no regulation, newspapers need regulation for the benefit of our society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    I'm all for press freedom, and we only have to look to some other countries to see how important it is. But there are 2 problems. The papers are commercial ventures: in their search for sales, they constantly compromise the values of good journalism for the sake of a "scoop". And most of them are not content to report news, but try to shape it, especially when they exert political influence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    If the press had done their job properly in the first place and reported facts and not gossip and innuendo and also respected others rights to privacy they would have the respect they want and also the freedom to publish. As it is they do need reining in and tough if they don't like it. The people have a right to know? Not everyone wants to have the least little bit of nasty gossip thrown at them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    526-its not politicians, its us. We vote for our elected MPs and id rather they regulate the press than the press themselves. After all the press havent done a very good job have they? Problem is we have an anti-regulation culture from Thatcher through to Blair/Cameron. There is so much which needs regulating eg the banks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    The papers post almost whatever they want. They can make up stories to destroy a person or they can post pictures that would get a peeping Tom arrested.

    There needs to be regulation. They need to be able to back up any claims or get slaughtered for it. The punishment must be so heavy that they fear packing their papers with lies.

    But then what will they publish?

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    "So now that responsibility [from the press] needs to be imposed"

    There is a very simple way to achieve that, simply don't buy the papers and their behaviour will change. Its not as if we need to consume these so called newspapers as part of our daily experience... oh wait.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    ...yet another enquiry then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    I will never have any respect for any newspaper, I stopped buying them 30 years ago. The recommendations of the Leveson inquiry should be carried out to the letter, if not it was a complete and utter waste of time and money Politicians seem to be scared of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.


    the bad press demonised the innocent Bristol Landlord as a murderer & went to town to destroy his character;

    the good press made public the persecution of Wanda Mattocks in a secret trial for helping her elderly father, and her imprisonment by a corrupt system;
    and the exposure of MP's false expenses.

    I'm not sure there is a perfect answer that cannot be abused by politicians.


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