8 Oct 2013

Newspapers’ plans for press regulation rejected

Culture Secretary Maria Miller tells the Commons that the newspaper industry’s proposals for self-regulation have been rejected – and that the government will now press ahead with its own charter.

The newspaper industry’s proposals, the PressBoF proposals, were rejected by a committee of the Privy Council that had been examining them.

Ms Miller said “whilst there are areas where it is clearly acceptable, it is unable to comply with some important Leveson principles and indeed government policy, such as in the areas of independence and access to arbitration”.

Read more from Political Editor Gary Gibbon: Press charter and wobble and pause

Ms Miller said the cross-party charter, agreed by political parties, will now be pursued. It will be debated on 30 October.

This form of press regulation has been criticised as “state regulation”. However, Ms Miller said that there could be some changes to the cross-party charter, especially in relation to “access to arbitration and the editors’ code”.

Any changes will be made by agreement between the three-parties, and will be made by this Friday, Ms Miller said.

Rupert Murdoch tweeted on Monday that the system of state regulation would “gag” print media in order to “protect toffs”.

Harriet Harman responded to the statement by Ms Miller, saying that “there has been nearly a year since Leveson reported and six months since the House agree the draft charter”.

“There has already been too much delay,” she said.

‘Wrecking manoeuvre’

Campaign group Hacked Off, which represented various victims of phone hacking by newspapers including celebrities such as Hugh Grant, said it was “relieved” at the suggestion that the press proposals had been rejected.

The PressBoF proposal was a wrecking manoeuvre by unrepentant sections of the press. Hacked Off

“Victims of press abuse will be relieved to hear that, at long last, the obstacle placed in the way of the cross-party royal charter has been removed.

“The PressBoF proposal was a wrecking manoeuvre by unrepentant sections of the press trying to avoid accountability and carry on with a broken system of press regulation.”

Gerry McCann, father of Madeleine who went missing during a family holiday in Portugal, urged politicians to reject the newspaper industry’s, describing them as “a gentlemen’s club agreement”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The World At One, he said: “I suppose the first thing to say is that I have been disappointed at the speed of progress – almost a year on from Leveson, seven months on from the approval by all parties of the royal charter.

“But I think this is a key week, really, for our politicians and hopefully they will reject the press charter which has been proposed, because from my point of view, as a victim and representing others, it will be inadequate.”

The decision coincides with renewed scrutiny of the media industry, following the Daily Mail’s story about Ed Miliband’s father, which it headlined “the man who hated Britain”.