Leveson Inquiry: Newspapers sign up for new watchdog

Newspapers sign up for new watchdog in response to Leveson InquiryMore than 100 paper proprietors,
publishers and editors met yesterday to sign up to the principles laid
out by Lord Justice LevesonFormer Tory peer Lord Hunt, who is
coordinating response of the press, said blueprint for new regulator would be drawn up on Jan 10He added it is unnecessary for politicians to pass law to enshrine new system in statute

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UPDATED:

00:56 GMT, 21 December 2012

Newspaper editors agreed to set up a new independent press watchdog yesterday in response to the Leveson Inquiry.

More than 100 paper proprietors, publishers and editors met yesterday to sign up to the principles laid out by Lord Justice Leveson.

Former Tory peer Lord Hunt, who is coordinating the response of the press, said a detailed blueprint for the new regulator would be drawn up on January 10.

But he continued to insist that it is not necessary for politicians to pass a new law to enshrine the new system in statute.

More than 100 paper proprietors, publishers and editors met yesterday to sign up to the principles laid out by Lord Justice Leveson (above)

More than 100 paper proprietors, publishers and editors met yesterday to sign up to the principles laid out by Lord Justice Leveson (above)

The meeting came as Culture Secretary Maria Miller and other senior ministers held talks yesterday with both Lord Hunt and the Hacked Off pressure group which is campaigning for new press laws.

David Cameron’s policy adviser Oliver Letwin told the group that the government is looking at legislation to make it legal to slap swingeing damages on those who lose a libel or privacy action and stay outside the new regulator.

The government is also studying plans for the new press regulator to be underpinned by a Royal Charter – a proposal that both the Lib Dems and Labour are warming to.

But the Department of Culture denied claims by Hacked Off that the Royal Charter would also be subject to change by Parliament.

The meeting came as Culture Secretary Maria Miller and other senior ministers held talks yesterday with both Lord Hunt and the Hacked Off pressure group which is campaigning for new press laws

The meeting came as Culture Secretary Maria Miller and other senior ministers held talks yesterday with both Lord Hunt and the Hacked Off pressure group which is campaigning for new press laws

The meeting came as Culture Secretary Maria Miller (left) and other senior ministers held talks yesterday with both Lord Hunt (right) and the Hacked Off pressure group which is campaigning for new press laws

One idea being looked at is the suggestion that a two-thirds majority would be required in the House of Commons and the Lords to change it.

A source close to Mrs Miller said that agreement between the three main political parties would be enough to establish the Royal Charter, not a vote among MPs.

A Culture department spokesman said: ‘The Culture Secretary has been clear that the gauntlet has been thrown down to the industry and that it is their responsibility to come forward swiftly with a tough independent self-regulator.

‘The notion of a Royal Charter is one
of the options being discussed at the cross party talks that would
offer an independent verification body.

'The Culture Secretary remains of the view that statutory underpinning is not necessary to achieve the Leveson principles.’

The government is studying plans for the new press regulator to be underpinned by a Royal Charter - a proposal that both the Lib Dems and Labour are warming to

The government is studying plans for the new press regulator to be underpinned by a Royal Charter – a proposal that both the Lib Dems and Labour are warming to. But the Department of Culture denied claims by Hacked Off that the Royal Charter would also be subject to change by Parliament

Under the plans that were mapped out by editors yesterday, media organisations would sign contracts committing them to sign up to the regulatory system for five years.

Lord Hunt said: ‘The industry is determined to show that it can produce the ideal outcome, in Lord Justice Leveson’s words a satisfactory independent regulatory body, without statute.

'There is an urgency now to establish this body. We are closer to an agreement than we have ever been,’ he said.

‘The significant thing today is that everyone accepts the contract model and the Leveson principles.’

He pointed out that Lord Justice Leveson said statutory regulation would be needed to ensure that all publishers agreed to join the new system.

But Lord Hunt said statute would not be necessary since national, regional and local newspapers and magazines were all prepared to sign up to the deal.