David Cameron set to defy newspaper industry over press regulation

Government fears public fury if it gives in to press lobby

David Cameron is set to reject moves by three of the country’s largest  newspaper groups to water down the proposed Royal Charter creating a new regulatory system for the press.

The Prime Minister risks upsetting Conservative-supporting papers by sticking to the deal agreed by the three main parties for a charter to implement a tougher system of independent self-regulation proposed by the Leveson Inquiry following the phone- hacking scandal.

Mr Cameron wants newspapers to reach a common position so that the new system is workable and effective, but the industry is divided.

Last week, Rupert Murdoch’s News International, the Mail and the Telegraph groups proposed an alternative charter, calling for politicians to be denied the right to amend it. They had been the most vocal in their opposition to the version agreed by the Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats.

Other groups, notably The Guardian, Financial Times and The Independent, had reservations about the original charter but were not as hostile. The Guardian and The Independent have since given the second charter their qualified support but do not believe it sets up a system that is sufficiently “independent” of the industry to satisfy the press’s critics inside and outside Parliament.

The industry’s split poses a difficult dilemma for Mr Cameron. But close allies say he will abide by the cross-party deal, which also won the support of both Houses of Parliament, and does not want to reopen the issue.

A Downing Street source told The Independent: “The Royal Charter put forward by the three parties and agreed after 22 weeks of consultation with the newspaper industry is the one we think should go forward.”

The rival charter was submitted to the Privy Council office today. 

Officials at the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) will examine it. But ministers believe it is highly unlikely that two rival charters would be submitted to the Privy Council, which meets on 15 May, as this would risk drawing the Queen into politics.

Conservative ministers believe the public would not understand if the Government retreated from an agreement that enjoyed the support of politicians and Hacked Off – the group which campaigns for the victims of hacking – under pressure from newspapers.

One said: “The industry needs to get its act together. It should realise that this is an opportunity to resolve the issue of regulation once and for all, and that it could end up with something much worse under a future administration – even a full-scale press law.”

Labour and the Liberal Democrats are keener on statutory regulation than the Conservatives, raising the prospect of legislation if there was a Labour government or Lib-Lab coalition after the 2015 election.

A retreat would be politically difficult for Mr Cameron. He has already made one U-turn on how to implement Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations, calling off deadlocked three-party talks in March only to restart them and reach a deal four days later.

Downing Street is believed to have reassured Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg that Mr Cameron will not be lured away from the agreement struck at 2.30am in the Labour leader’s office. Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office Minister and Tory policy chief, who joined Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg at the talks, is also standing by it. “There is no wobble,” one insider said.

A Labour source said: “The newspapers who have come up with their own charter are trying to muddy the waters and stop us going ahead. But it isn’t working.”

The source dismissed claims that Hacked Off, which had four representatives at the crucial talks, had called the shots, saying that Mr Letwin had consulted the newspapers closely, even though they were not present.

The rival blueprint reinstated a proposal for a “whistleblowers’ charter” for journalists who want to alert the new regulatory body to bad practice, which had been dropped from the three groups’ original plan last week. But party officials said its language on corrections and apologies when papers make mistakes was not as strong as in the charter agreed by the politicians.

In a statement co-ordinated by the Newspaper Society last week, the industry warned that the cross-party scheme had “no support within the press”, amid fears that some papers would refuse to sign up to it.

The industry argues that its proposals would meet the Leveson recommendations and impose the most rigorous system of press regulation in the Western world, while keeping the press free from state control and interference by politicians.

Some Conservative MPs, including John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, have urged Mr Cameron to take the alternative plan “very seriously”.

But Hacked Off accused the industry of “unilaterally rejecting” the Leveson findings and proposing a new regulator that would be the “poodle” of the press.g

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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 General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform