Leveson - Bosses' walk of shame
- 4 December 2012
- From the section UK Politics
Newspaper editors and proprietors had hoped that this morning's meeting with the prime minister and the culture secretary would be in the House of Commons, allowing them to slip in to the building unnoticed.
It has, though, been switched to Number 10, turning their on-camera arrivals into what the editor of the Telegraph, Tony Gallagher, jokily described on twitter last night as "the perp walk" during which the TV guys would "shout rude questions as we humbly beg entry".
Gallagher rightly predicts that David Cameron intends to make clear - and, just as importantly, wants to be seen to make clear - that the papers are not off the hook. His message will be - if you don't get your act together we will legislate as Leveson demanded.
So, what does getting your act together consist of?
The answer is at one and the same time simple yet very very difficult to achieve. It requires the biggest most powerful papers - Mail, Sun, Telegraph - to agree to give up control of the press regulator which emerges from the ashes of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
At present they have agreed to create precisely the system of investigations, fines and corrections which Leveson wants, but propose to retain their power to hire and fire its boss since they will be footing the bill for the new system.
The solution, some ministers hope, will involve creating an independent appointments process headed ideally by a judge (that, goes the argument, should silence those demanding legal underpinning) and they are prepared to offer the assistance of the civil service to ensure that it is seen to be above board.
Simple? Yes, provided that the battle-hardened men who run Britain's press don't cling to the view that he who pays the piper picks the tune, and provided they don't look at the prime minister when he's warning them about what he might do next and think "yeah right".
I don't doubt that a new press regulator will be set up - it has to be since the old PCC is effectively dead.
I do doubt whether - once the perp walk has been completed - it will get close to what Leveson demanded.