Cameron, Clegg and Miliband meet for Leveson talks

 

Prime Minister David Cameron met Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband this afternoon for the latest round of cross-party talks on the Leveson Report on press regulation.

Downing Street declined to discuss the content of the leaders' discussions, saying only that the talks were "constructive and ongoing".

The three major party leaders have clashed over how the Government should respond to Lord Justice Leveson's report, which called for a new system of press regulation, underpinned by statute.

Mr Cameron has made clear that he would prefer the press to establish a new and genuinely independent self-regulatory watchdog, without resorting to legislation to place this body under statutory oversight.

But Labour has published a six-clause bill, which would create a panel, headed by the Lord Chief Justice, to recognise a new Press Standards Trust and give it a "health check" every three years to see if it is carrying out its work properly.

Mr Clegg broke with precedent to give a separate statement to MPs from the Prime Minister, in which he backed Leveson's call for statutory under-pinning.

It is understood that the three leaders discussed proposals, floated by Conservative Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, for a royal charter to establish the new press self-regulatory body.

There was no agreement on the idea - denounced by the Hacked Off campaign - and cross-party talks are now expected to resume in the new year on a date which has yet to be fixed.

It is unclear whether a royal charter would require statutory underpinning.

All sides in today's talks are understood to have agreed the importance of ensuring that victims of press intrusion have a voice in discussions on newspaper regulation.

And they agreed that the press must not be allowed to backslide on promises of change.

Liberal Democrat sources described the talks as "productive" while Labour said they were "constructive" but no agreement was reached on the way forward.

PA

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