Brooke shuns statutory regulation of press

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Indy Politics
GOVERNMENT reluctance to impose statutory regulation of the press was again underlined yesterday by Peter Brooke, the Secretary of State for National Heritage. 'I hope that genuine and far-reaching reforms can be introduced in the present self-regulation,' he told the committee scrutinising the Freedom and Responsibility of the Press Bill sponsored by the Labour MP Clive Soley.

Despite agreeing to serve as a member of the standing committee on the Private Member measure, Mr Brooke made it clear the Government could not support the Bill's proposal for an independent press authority to handle complaints of inaccuracy and promote high ethical standards. The body was 'vague' and 'unbalanced,' Mr Brooke said.

Indicating the Government's principal interest, that of tackling invasion of privacy, he told Mr Soley: 'If a statutory body were to be introduced, it would need to be a somewhat different body with wider functions and powers than you propose.'

Mr Soley presented a dossier of fresh examples of alleged press abuses where the current self-regulatory Press Complaints Commission had not taken the initiative to intervene. These included a Daily Mirror headline 'You Bitch' over the story of the mother who left her child alone in a flat. That was the 'equivalent of stoning', Mr Soley said.

(Photograph omitted)

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