Leveson Inquiry: Report response may divide coalition

Lord Justice Leveson Image copyright AFP
Image caption Lord Justice Leveson is due to publish his report on Thursday

It is not often that the prime minister, his deputy and their most senior advisers clear their diaries for most of two whole days.

They have done so to read, digest and consider how to respond to the Leveson report on the culture, standards and ethics of the press.

The coalition is preparing for the possibility that it may divide on the issue.

Many senior Conservatives sympathise with the 60 MPs and 25 peers who have written to the Telegraph and the Guardian today warning that any new law to regulate the press would require a return to state licensing of papers abolished more than three centuries ago.

That hostility is not shared by their Liberal Democrat partners in the coalition.

Tonight David Cameron and Nick Clegg will meet and then tomorrow morning a rarely used coalition committee will also try to find an agreed way forward.

If they can't I'm told that Mr Clegg is prepared to take the extraordinary step of speaking in the Commons after the prime minister and in opposition to him.