Stricter curbs on the press being drafted

THE GOVERNMENT is considering some of the toughest strictures yet on the press, including fines on newspapers and compulsory payments to people who have their privacy unjustly invaded, writes David Lister.

Ministers are putting the finishing touches to the White Paper on press regulation, though its publication has been put back to the end of July.

In the House of Commons today, MPs will debate a recommendation from the recent select committee on the press for a statutory ombudsman. But departments involved in drafting the White Paper are exploring even stricter controls. The bugging of conversations and 'snatching' pictures via telephoto lenses are understood to be certain to be made illegal; though an exception might be made for the security services' work.

Ministers are also understood to be considering options including automatic fines for newspapers which breach the press code of conduct; financial compensation for those who have been wronged by such breaches; and a new Press Commission.