Leveson Report: Nick Clegg joins forces with Labour on regulatory Bill
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 30 November 2012
Divisions between David Cameron and Nick Clegg on press regulation widened yesterday as the Liberal Democrat leader joined forces with Labour over how the Government should respond to the Leveson Report.
Mr Clegg and Ed Miliband are furious with the Prime Minister for suggesting that a draft Bill to be drawn up in line with Lord Justice Leveson's proposals would merely be a wrecking device to show how difficult it would be to turn them into law. Mr Cameron, who rejected the key Leveson plan for independent self-regulation of the press to be underpinned by legislation, promised the draft measure during talks with the two other party leaders.
At the time, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband thought the Prime Minister had made a genuine offer. They were dismayed by No 10's suggestion that Mr Cameron would use the process to undermine the case for legislation.
The Deputy Prime Minister will work to ensure the draft Bill is a serious attempt to provide a workable system of press regulation. His spokesman said yesterday: "The statement that this Bill is being drafted to show that it will not work does not reflect the position agreed by all three party leaders in the talks on Thursday.
"The Liberal Democrats in government will ensure the Bill is drafted in good faith. We owe that to the public and the victims."
But Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, took a different line, saying: "The reason why we have such grave misgivings about putting in place such a piece of statutory underpinning is because of the very extensive nature of that legislation for it to be effective. We want to draw that up and share that with the opposition parties and with our Coalition partners to be able to demonstrate that to them. I think when they see that they will too understand where our concerns come from."
Labour sources said it was "ludicrous" for the Conservatives to use the draft Bill as a stick with which to beat the newspaper industry, while at the same time making clear they had no intention of turning it into real legislation.
Mr Miliband said he was prepared to depart from some of the Leveson proposals in order to achieve a cross-party consensus. These include two issues on which Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg have reservations – extending the broadcast regulator Ofcom's remit to the press and proposals to change the Data Protection Act which critics say would have a chilling effect on investigative journalism.
A Labour source said: "We are showing we are serious in our desire to build a consensus by agreeing it is right for Parliament to look at the detail of these proposals."
World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas
Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new
TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow
Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientists who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it behind the disease that has killed thousands?
- 3 Star Wars memorabilia dubbed 'bit of plastic' by Antiques Roadshow's Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 4 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
- 5 Michael McIntyre walks off stage after woman in the front row uses her phone
Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it behind the disease that has killed thousands?
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: Olympic star must serve 10 years, prosecutor urges
Isis fighters 'crucify' 17-year-old boy in Syria
Teenage boy gang raped at party is left in critical condition by attackers
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: Athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked an overdue debate on South African prisons
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Permanent Year 6 TeacherThe job:This...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: KS1+KS2 Teachers required ASAP for l...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 2 Teacher The position is to wo...