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


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella

Arts and Entertainment
Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree is to be made into a series of films

Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree really is being made into a movie franchise

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon


Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Teacher

£22000 - £32000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London