Miliband outlines new Bill to set up independent press regulator

Draft Bill will heap pressure on the Tories while appeasing Liberal Democrats

Labour will today publish a draft Bill to implement Lord Justice Leveson's proposal for a new independent press regulator, to be overseen by a body backed by statute.

Significantly, Ed Miliband's proposed law will be welcomed by the Liberal Democrats in a move that will put more pressure on David Cameron, who is resisting the Leveson Inquiry's call for the new system to be underpinned by law.

Mr Miliband discussed the issue in a telephone call with Nick Clegg last week. Labour is also holding private talks with senior Conservative MPs as it tries to build a parliamentary majority for the approach favoured in last month's Leveson Report. It amended its draft Bill in the light of the soundings it has taken with the two other main parties.

Labour will drop its initial backing for Lord Justice Leveson's plan for the body that will replace the much-criticised Press Complaints Commission to be overseen by Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator. This idea has been opposed by Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron, who do not want to see Ofcom's remit extended to newspapers.

Instead, Labour proposes that a panel headed by the Lord Chief Justice, aided by advisers, would recognise a new Press Standards Trust and give it a "health check" every three years to see whether it is carrying out its work properly. The review would look at the make-up of the trust board, its record on investigating complaints and its code of practice, including guidance on the definition of public interest.

The trust could impose fines only in cases of serious and systematic non-compliance. The draft Bill would require ministers and public agents to protect press freedom.

Liberal Democrats welcomed Labour's six-clause draft Bill as "a good piece of work". But Mr Clegg wants stronger guarantees than in Labour's current version to prevent it being amended by a future government into an Act that could inhibit press freedom – a major fear of opponents of a press law, including the newspaper industry and Mr Cameron.

Allies of Mr Clegg denied that the Deputy Prime Minister was joining forces with Mr Miliband, right, against Mr Cameron, insisting that he was trying to forge a consensus. They said he was holding regular discussions with the Prime Minister over the next moves on Leveson.

Cross-party talks will resume later this week. The Government is drawing up its own draft Bill, but the process got off to a bad start when ministers pointed out how difficult it would be to frame a Leveson-style law. Mr Clegg is insisting that the Government's Bill is a "serious piece of work" undertaken in good faith.

A senior Liberal Democrat source said: "We welcome the publication of Labour's Bill as an important contribution to the cross-party talks. Although there is more work to be done to ensure that legislation is proportionate and workable, it demonstrates that it should be possible to achieve this goal.

"[Our] focus... will be to work to further improve the Bill to make it very difficult to amend in the future. Liberal Democrats look forward to discussing this Bill with all parties alongside the draft the Government is currently working on."

Downing Street is studying the idea of creating the new press regulator by Royal Charter, the system used to protect the BBC from political interference. But Labour is worried that this could leave the power to amend the charter in the hands of privy councillors, most of whom are government ministers.

Labour hopes to win a majority for its draft Bill, with the help of Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs, in a Commons vote before the end of next month. But Mr Cameron could still hold the whip hand, since he could ignore the vote and legislation would need to be introduced by the Government.

Labour's response to Leveson: the key proposals

Labour will not call for Ofcom to oversee the new press regulator

A senior judge should instead provide oversight for the body

Ed Miliband is concerned that a royal charter could lead to political inteferance

MPs are anxious to ensure the system cannot simply be altered at a later date

The party is trying to balance regulatory powers with press freedoms

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, an ...

Ashdown Group: Senior .Net Developer - Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

£65000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A long-established, tech...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Software Development Project Manager - Kingston Upon Thames

£55000 - £60000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Experienced Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders