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Law to regulate the Press could be abused, warns PM
David Cameron wants newspapers to agree to an independent self-regulation system without the need to pass a new lawLabour published its plan to enforce Leveson's proposals which calls for him to oversee a new regulator

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UPDATED:

00:38 GMT, 11 December 2012

A Labour proposal to write regulation of the Press into law was shot down by David Cameron yesterday with a warning that MPs might in future abuse the change to extend their powers over the media.

The Prime Minister said he wants newspapers to agree a system of independent self-regulation with tough penalties for wrongdoing as outlined by Lord Justice Leveson – but without the need to pass a new law.

He spoke out after Labour published its own plan to enforce the proposals of the Leveson Report.

Britain's Lord Justice Brian Leveson

Prime Minister David Cameron

Warning: David Cameron (right) wants newspapers to agree a system of independent self-regulation with tough penalties for wrongdoing as outlined by Lord Leveson (left) – but without the need to pass a new law

The draft Bill calls for the Lord Chief Justice, the senior judge in England and Wales, to oversee a new regulator called the Press Standards Trust, checking every three years that it is doing its job.

The plan marks a U-turn by Labour leader Ed Miliband, who had originally called for every word of the Leveson Report to be enforced, which would have seen television regulator Ofcom overseeing the Press.

Labour spokesman on the media, Harriet Harman, said the party changed its mind in part because of Clegg's opposition to Ofcom oversight

U-turn: Labour spokesman on the media, Harriet Harman, said the party changed its mind in part because of Clegg's opposition to Ofcom oversight

Harriet Harman, Labour’s spokesman on
the media, said the party had changed its mind in part because of Lib
Dem leader Nick Clegg’s opposition to Ofcom oversight.

The Labour plan would also see publications which refuse to sign up to the regulator having higher damages awarded against them if they lose court cases.

The draft Bill will be discussed in cross-party talks on Thursday, but Mr Cameron argued: ‘The world doesn’t end tomorrow if you have statutory underpinning.

‘But once you start drafting a law that is a statutory underpinning, you find you have effectively created a Press Bill. It may not have that much which is frightening in it. But it becomes a very easily amendable piece of work, which is why we should try and avoid it. I think we can avoid it.’