Don't shy away from tighter press controls, top Tories urge Cameron

 

Whitehall Editor

More than 40 Conservatives, including four former cabinet minsters, have signed an open letter calling for David Cameron not to shy away from introducing a tougher system of press regulation.

In the letter the party figures, including former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind and two former party chairmen, Caroline Spelman and Lord Fowler, warn against adopting press recommendations for a new system of self-regulation.

Their intervention signals a potential shift in the politics of media regulation. It is the first time that senior Conservative figures have suggested they would not be opposed in principle to legal regulation of the industry.

Lord Justice Leveson is due to publish his inquiry's findings at the end of this month and ferocious lobbying operation is under way from both sides in the argument.

The signatories believe their letter may show Downing Street that crossparty consensus on media reform is possible at Westminster.

“No one wants our media controlled by the government but, to be credible, any new regulator must be independent of the press as well as from politicians,” the letter says.

It adds: “After eight months, 650 witnesses and 6,000 pages of evidence submitted to the Leveson inquiry, we can be clear about two things.

”Firstly, that a free press is essential for a free society. Secondly, that there are fundamental weaknesses in the current model of self-regulation which cannot be ignored.

Lord Black, chairman of the funding body for the Press Complaints Commission, told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics he wanted a form of “muscular” self-regulation. That would mean a new organisation with the power to launch investigations and levy fines of up to £1m.

But signatories to today's letter to the Guardian warned of fundamental weaknesses in the current system and called for a “credible” new regulator.

The letter states: “We are concerned that the current proposal put forward by the newspaper industry would lack independence and risks being an unstable model destined to fail, like previous initiatives over the past 60 years.”

Brian Cathcart, director of campaign group Hacked Off, said: “This is a welcome development which shows that demands for a truly effective and independent system of regulation are coming from right across the political spectrum.

”The idea that the newspaper industry can get away with the shocking treatment of families like the Dowlers and carry on with business as usual is clearly nonsense.

“We hope the Prime Minister will seize the opportunity presented by his own backbenchers and agree to hold cross-party talks on how to take forward Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations as soon as it is practical to do so.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee