George Osborne indicates Government will not support Leveson proposals for sweeping press regulation changes

 

George Osborne today gave the clearest indication yet that the Government will not support proposals for sweeping changes to press regulation even if they are proposed by the Leveson Inquiry.

Giving evidence Mr Osborne made clear he did not believe that press regulation should be put on a statutory footing and appeared to rule out allowing “group complaints” against newspapers.

He also said he was not in favour of any attempt to prevent newspapers “blurring” news with comment and insisted that any future regulation must not just cover newspaper conduct but also material on the internet as well.

Mr Osborne is the second senior cabinet minister to express reservations about the extent of changes to press regulation which could be proposed by the Leveson Inquiry. David Cameron is expected to make similar points when he gives evidence on Thursday. However ministers are thought to back plans to allow a new press regulator to fine newspapers and direct when apologies and corrections should appear.

Speaking at the end of his evidence Mr Osborne said he was in favour of a new press regulator which would provide redress to ordinary citizens who felt they had been wronged – but hinted that he did not believe it should necessarily apply to politicians or celebrities who court the media.

“While the Press Complaints Commission has done some good it has lacked teeth and independence,” he said

“I would hope there would be some remedies about how you can help ordinary citizens not politicians and celebrities which was after all the origins of this inquiry.

“(but) In doing so you have got to be careful not to stray into issues like the blurring of comment and fact, which has featured in this inquiry, because I think you could be crossing over a line (in) restricting on free speech which would be damaging to democracy.

When Lord Justice Leveson pointed out that the Press Complaints Commission already required the separation of fact and comment Mr Osborne appeared to suggest this would be wrong to enforce.

“That is part of the colour of a free press in our society,” he said. “It makes the press more effective at holding politicians to account than in some other countries.”

Mr Osborne also appear to dismiss suggestions for a journalistic “kite mark” which could be withdrawn by a successor body to the PCC.

“I would be quite sceptical of getting into that kind of territory.”

Lord Justice Leveson said he had heard evidence from groups – such as the disabled and immigrants - who said they felt very disadvantaged by the way in which they were portrayed in the press and asked Mr Osborne whether they ought to be able to make collective complaints.

But Mr Osborne appeared to suggest that such restrictions might unnecessarily stifle public debate

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam