Privacy legislation delayed

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WESTMINSTER sources yesterday ruled out an announcement in the next Queen's Speech of a Bill curbing invasions of privacy by the press, highlighted by the reports of alleged nuisance telephone calls by the Princess of Wales.

A draft White Paper on changes in the law on privacy is being reviewed during the summer by Stephen Dorrell, Secretary of State for National Heritage. He has postponed publication of the White Paper until the autumn at the earliest.

'The Government will not be acting on individual cases. It will take into account how the press has behaved over time. Dorrell has not been involved in the detail until now. He will want to discuss it with his Cabinet colleagues after the holidays before anything happens,' a source said.

The further delays will cast doubt on whether the Government will act on abuses, in spite of the warning some years ago by David Mellor that the press was 'drinking in the last chance saloon'. The delay will dismay some MPs who have been demanding action.