A deal has been struck between the three main political parties on measures to regulate the press. This is after talks were held overnight between the Lib Dem and Labour leaders and a Cabinet Office minister on a new press watchdog. The deal involves ensuring that a royal charter cannot be tampered with. Culture Secretary Maria Miller says a deal is close, but the leaders still needed to talk. Labour’s Harriet Harman has said that a planned vote on the issue due to be held in the Commons later will not go ahead.
How this came about : The prime minister had opposed establishing a watchdog backed by law, but the other parties have pushed for it. Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into press ethics in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal had called for a new, independent regulator backed by legislation, prompting months of political wrangling. Prime Minister David Cameron set up the public, judge-led Leveson Inquiry to examine the culture of the press in response to the phone hacking scandal. It emerged that thousands of people had been victims of press intrusion. Many people gave evidence to the inquiry including ordinary people hit by tragedy, Gerry McCann father of missing Madeline and the parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
In the 2000 page report produced by Lord Justice Leveson it said that the press had “wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people” and called for a new independant regulator, which should be backed by law to make sure it was more effective than the Press Complaints Commission.
When the report was published in November 2012, Cameron rejected the idea of creating a law to underpin a new press watchdog but Labour and the Liberal Democrats supported this. Last night’s talks were on how to go forward with reform.
Next blog post – How does this affect us in Maltby and Rotherham ?