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Editors agree on new regulation system for Press
The editors have been in talks following David Cameron's warning to rapidly agree on framework for a tough new regulatorThe regulator will have power to issue fines, require prominent apologies and investigate alleged wrongdoing
Lord Hunt and Lord Black are working on behalf of editors to implement the Leveson proposals
22:59 GMT, 6 December 2012
Newspaper editors last night announced they have agreed to put in place the broad principles outlined in the Leveson Report.
The editors have been in talks this week following David Cameron’s warning that they must make rapid progress on agreeing the framework for a tough new regulator, which will have the power to issue fines, require prominent apologies and investigate alleged wrongdoing.
Two peers – Lord Hunt and Lord Black – will work on behalf of the editors on the implementation of the Leveson proposals and will give full details to the Government ‘very shortly’.
Implementation: Newspaper editors announced they have agreed to put in place the broad principles outlined in the Leveson Report and Lord Hunt (left) and Lord Black (right) will work on the editors' behalf to implement the proposals
The Prime Minister has rejected Labour demands for a new law regulating the 300-year-old freedom of the Press in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
However, he told editors who attended a Downing Street summit earlier this week that they must make rapid progress on agreeing to set up an independent watchdog in line with criteria set out in last week’s 2,000-page Leveson blueprint.
Mr Cameron has warned that ‘the clock is ticking’, since he might not be able to command a Commons majority against statutory regulation.
A statement issued on behalf of newspaper editors said last night: ‘The editors of all national newspapers met yesterday and unanimously agreed to start putting in place the broad proposals – save the statutory underpinning – for the independent self-regulatory system laid out by Lord Justice Leveson.
Quick set up: David Cameron told editors at a Downing Street summit this week that they must make rapid progress on agreeing to set up an independent watchdog in line with criteria set out in Lord Leveson's (pictured) blueprint
‘Lord Hunt and Lord Black will report back to the Government very shortly in detail on how the industry proposes to implement the Leveson plan.’
The Independent’s editor Chris Blackhurst said the industry was ‘pretty much agreed’ on all the non-statutory elements of the system proposed in the Leveson Report. That includes the power for a new regulator to levy fines of up to 1million, to launch investigations and to dictate the size and prominence of apologies.
The Independent's editor Chris Blackhurst said the industry was 'pretty much agreed' on all non-statutory elements of the proposed system
Mr Blackhurst suggested there was also consensus on making the new body independent of the Press and the Government.
But he said there remained ‘one or two grey areas’, notably over the practical operation of a proposed arbitration system which will offer low-cost settlement of privacy and defamation claims, avoiding expensive court cases, and a non-statutory ‘verifier’ of the system proposed by ministers – possibly a senior judge.
Natalie Fenton, of campaign group Hacked Off, said: ‘It is a charade for the politicians and the editors to get together and pick out some of the recommendations and say these are acceptable or not, and take out the heart and soul of the Leveson recommendations which provide the backbone for establishing a fair system going forward.’
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, who held cross-party talks north of the border on how to respond to the Leveson Report, said that with the exception of the Conservatives all Scottish parties had agreed to ‘proceed with the establishment of an expert group that will provide advice on how Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations on the statutory underpinning of a self-regulated Press could be applied in Scotland’.