A 75-year-old former judge, Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers, has been put in charge of establishing a new press regulation system, following the long public inquiry conducted by his judicial colleague Lord Justice Leveson.
Lord Phillips, a former President of the Supreme Court, has been chosen to head a Foundation Group of six individuals who will select the appointment panel that will oversee the successor body to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
The PCC chairman Lord Hunt, who will announce the appointment of Lord Phillips in a speech in Bristol today, has admitted that the 1 July deadline for the new regulatory body may now be missed. “On 25 November [when Leveson reported] I was confident we could get it up and running [by July],” he said. “Now perhaps it may be a little more difficult.”
He hoped that in “firing the starting gun” on the much-delayed appointment panel process he could end the political stalemate over the implementation of Leveson.
“This is the beginning of the fresh start we so desperately need,” he said. As a result, he hoped, the cross-party plans to reform Britain’s libel laws might be rescued.
The Defamation Bill going through Parliament is in jeopardy after peers inserted an amendment designed to force the Government to act on Leveson. Lord Hunt said his announcement was a “plea for [the Bill] to be spared”
Lord Phillips is a “person of complete integrity”, he said. “He is also a person of independent mind, completely his own man and possessed of a remarkably sharp intellect and robust common sense.”