The three main party leaders will tomorrow try to break the deadlock between them over how to implement Lord Justice Leveson’s report on press standards.
David Cameron is attracted to the idea of using a Royal Charter to set up a body to oversee the new independent self-regulation system recommended by the Leveson inquiry. This would avoid the need for “statutory underpinning” of the new press body proposed by the inquiry, which the Prime Minister and newspaper industry oppose.
Labour is worried that a Royal Charter would not ensure the system were free of political interference, since ministers dominate the Privy Council, which could recommend changes to such a Charter. Nick Clegg has an open mind about the idea, and about the other options on the table – a draft Bill drawn up by Labour, which wants the press body supervised by the Lord Chief Justice, and two draft Bills written by the Department of Culture Media and Sport.
Talks between Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary; Harriet Harman, her Labour shadow and Lord Wallace, a Lib Dem minister, who met again today, have failed to find a consensus. So Mr Cameron is due to discuss the issue today with Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.
Labour suspects that Mr Cameron is dragging his feet in the hope that pressure for a statutory approach abates. Labour sources say a Royal Charter could not go ahead without all-party agreement. Government sources denied last night that ministers were going cold on reform.