Leveson Report: What next for PM?

  • 29 November 2012
  • From the section UK Politics
  • comments

It should not be acceptable that it (the press) uses its voice, power and authority to undermine the ability of society to require that regulation is not a free for all, to be ignored with impunity. The answer to the question who guards the guardians should not be "no one".

Those words buried deep in the Leveson Report seem to summarise the judge's view.

He attacks the press for behaviour which can "only be described as outrageous" and for "recklessness in prioritising sensational stories almost irrespective of the harm the stories may cause".

He condemns political parties for "too close a relationship with the press in a way which has not been in the public interest" and a "persistent failure" to respond to public concern about the press"

He criticises the police for failing to re-open enquiries into phone hacking and being "wrong and unduly defensive".

However, and you can be sure David Cameron will make a great deal of this :

* he clears the Prime Minister of "anything resembling a deal" with News International

* he praises the former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt for his handling of the BSkyB "in every respect bar one" ie asking his special adviser to deal with News International

So far, so much commentary. What of his recommendations?

Leveson tries to bridge the gap between those who argue for self regulation by the press and those who call for a new law. He says that a new press regulatory body would only be independent if it was underpinned by a law - or statute and supervised by OFCOM - the current communications regulator.

I suspect that that will not persuade the Prime Minister. David Cameron is likely to praise Leveson's work and principles but argue that a new independent regulator could and should be set up without a new law.

The Deputy Prime Minister and the Labour leader Ed Miliband are likely to argue that Leveson's proposals should, at least, be the starting point.

The question then is - can a parliamentary majority be formed to defeat the prime minister or will he manage to persuade the press to change its proposals to head off that threat?