Political parties convene for final attempt at press charter
Culture Secretary Maria Miller seeks legislation both MPs and the media are willing to support
Representatives of all three main political parties will meet today in a last ditch attempt to agree a compromise on press regulation that can win the backing of both MPs and the newspaper industry.
In a surprising move, the Culture Secretary Maria Miller announced that the Conservatives were prepared to re-open discussions on Parliament’s Royal Charter to try and allay press concerns that the new system would be costly and impractical. Under her proposed changes, members of the public wanting to access complaints arbitration would have to pay a fee to access the service to prevent spurious claims.
In addition, working journalists rather than “lay” members would be responsible for drawing up the code of conduct under which complaints would be assessed. However, the code would still have to be approved by an independent panel. Ms Miller said that unless she could get agreement from Labour and the Liberal Democrats on the changes by Friday, the Government would move forward to ratify the existing Royal Charter on 30 October.
The move is designed to put pressure on Labour and the Liberal Democrats to compromise on a new regulatory framework for press regulation and avoid a potential boycott by the newspaper industry.
However, it was far from clear if the concessions would be enough to win round newspaper editors who have threatened to go it alone with their own system for press regulation.
Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator magazine, said his publication would still boycott the new regulator. “We have opposed every attempted political power grab since 1834 and we will have no part in any government-mandated regulator now,” he said.
If publishers refuse to sign up they face having to pay costs in any libel actions taken against them even if they are successful in defending the claim. Ms Miller is due to meet Labour’s Deputy Leader Harriet Harman and the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Wallace to discuss the compromise today. The Culture Secretary has set a deadline of Friday for the amended charter to be published.
Outlining her proposal in the House of Commons, Ms Miller confirmed that that Government did not accept an alternative Royal Charter put forward by the newspaper industry as it did not comply with some of the “fundamental principles” of the Leveson Report.
She insisted that she still believed it was possible to get an agreement that both safeguarded the freedom of the press and provided an independent redress for complainants.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller (Getty Images)
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. We all want it to be the best we can do to give individuals access to redress whilst safeguarding this country’s free press which forms such a vital part of our democracy,” she said.
Labour sources gave a cautious welcome to Ms Miller’s announcement suggesting that the parties “were not that far apart”. But they insisted that any changes “could not deviate” from Leveson’s recommendations.
Brian Cathcart, director of the pressure group Hacked Off, said it was “regrettable” that further changes would be made to the cross-party charter and added: “The moment has come to ask the press, the big companies who run the national newspapers, to think again about their position.”
- 1 Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how the internet reacted
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
- 5 Britain First picture: Photographer 'horrified' after first Afghan policewoman killed by Taliban used for 'ban the burka' campaign
Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Jennifer Lawrence leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by forum users
Gabrielle Union contacts FBI over nude 4Chan pictures leaked by 'vultures'
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently looking to ...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...