Leveson inquiry: Government delays its press regulation reforms to give newspaper industry time to present alternative charter

 

The Government is to delay the presentation of its proposed Royal Charter to underpin a new system of press regulation to the Privy Council.

The charter had been due to be presented to the Queen by the Lord President of the Privy Council, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, for approval on May 15.

However, Downing Street said last night that it had been put back in order to give more time for consideration of an alternative charter put forward by the industry.

The move was welcomed by the Newspaper Society, representing the industry, but the Hacked Off campaign said only the Government version would meet the requirements of the Leveson Report on press standards.

The alternative version - which has the support of most national, regional and local newspapers - is currently open for comment on the Privy Council website until May 23.

A No 10 spokeswoman said that it "made sense" that both versions should be considered by the Privy Council at the same time.

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

In a statement last night the Newspaper Society said: "We have always said the Independent Royal Charter would be open to consultation and are confident it will receive the widespread public support shown in opinion polls.

"It already has the backing of the vast majority of the newspaper and magazine industry."

Hacked Off group, which campaigns for tighter press regulation, said that it believed the Government had agreed to the delay in order to avoid the prospect of judicial review.

"All three party leaders promised the victims of press abuse that they would deliver a system which would meet the standards laid down by the Leveson Report," said associate director Evan Harris.

"Only one of these Royal Charters is compliant and this is the case by a mile. Victims expect all of the parties to stand by their leaders' promises.

"Press reform has been overdue for decades. If there is another delay for a further month, that can be borne."

PA

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