Harman piles pressure on PM to toughen press regulation plan

Labour deputy leader says party will not give support to ‘watered down’ Royal Charter proposals

Labour told David Cameron today it could accept his proposals for a Royal Charter to regulate the press – but only if he “mans up” and toughens them up, its deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said.

She hinted at progress in all-party talks over how to combat press excesses, but stressed Labour could not support any plan that “drives a coach and horses” through last year’s proposals from Lord Justice Leveson.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for the Leveson recommendations, including a regulator underpinned by law, to be adopted in full.

The Conservatives have set out their plans for a Royal Charter as an alternative to legislation governing the press, arguing that laws would risk political interference in the media.

They envisage creating a body to verify a new regulator set up by the industry to provide redress for victims of press misreporting or intrusion.

Three months of talks between the parties have edged towards an agreement, although all sides stressed a deal was far from certain.

Ms Harman said today: “We will look at a Royal Charter, but it can’t be driving a coach and horses through the standards that Leveson set forth.”

She said: “We will look at a Royal Charter, but we’re not prepared to look at it if some aspects of Leveson are watered down because the press don’t agree with some aspects of it.”

Claiming the press had been “leaning” on the Prime Minister, Ms Harman said: “It’s now time for David Cameron to man up, step forward and say ‘yes we’re going to do it’, and we’ll agree with him, and we’ll support him.”

The issue of press regulation will  return to Westminster today when the House of Lords will debate libel reforms.

Peers have already passed an amendment to the Defamation Bill which critics claim is an attempt to introduce Leveson “by the back door”.

Under the amendment an independent body would have to certify the new arbitration system and while it would be voluntary, newspapers that did not join up could be punished by courts awarding greater damages and costs in defamation cases.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, has made clear that she does not support the changes, which were passed with the support of rebel Tory and Liberal Democrat peers.

The Government will seek to overturn the amendment when the legislation returns to the Commons unless a way can be found to remove it in the Lords.

Tory sources have made clear that David Cameron is prepared to scrap the entire Bill rather than accept the amendment.

Scrapping the Defamation Bill would infuriate lawyers who protest that Britain has become the world’s “libel centre”.

However, Mr Cameron would face the prospect of dissident Tories and Liberal Democrats who support a Leveson law siding with Labour if the amendment is not removed before the Bill returns to the Commons.

News
news
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
artYouth club owner says mural is 'gift from the sky' so he can prevent closure of venue
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?