UK & World News

  • 10 December 2012, 7:10

Labour Reveals Leveson Press Plan

The Labour Party has drafted its own bill based on Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations for regulation of the press - a move that will put pressure on David Cameron.

The party said the proposals would implement the core principles of the Leveson Report's findings.

But the six-clause bill abandons support for Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator acting as the body to oversee the press regulator.

Instead, it proposes a new regulatory body called the Press Standards Trust, recognised by the Lord Chief Justice with a substantial majority of newspapers as members.

Lord Falconer, the former lord chancellor and legal adviser on the draft, told The Guardian: "The one thing we are determined to do with the bill is make sure that it does not involve any state body directly regulating the media."

The draft bill proposes:

:: A panel headed by the lord chief justice, aided by advisers, which recognises a press regulatory body and determines every three years whether the body is carrying out its functions properly.

:: The press regulatory body, named the Press Standards Trust, is recognised by the lord chief justice if a substantial majority of newspapers are trust members.

:: Incentives are provided for newspapers to join the trust through lower levels of high court damages and costs.

:: Criteria by which the judiciary determine whether the trust has shown it is carrying out its functions, such as composition of the trust board, its investigation of complaints and its publication of a code, including guidance on the definition of public interest. The trust could only impose fines in cases of serious and systematic non-compliance.

:: The requirement that ministers and public agents protect press freedom.

Labour's deputy leader and shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman is requesting that the draft Bill is discussed at the next round of cross-party talks on Thursday.

Leader Ed Miliband has said that cross-party talks should be concluded by Christmas and that Labour will force a vote in the Commons by the end of January.

Labour says it has already discussed this Bill in detail with parliamentarians from other parties who want to see the central recommendations of Leveson Report implemented.

Last week, the Prime Minister declared his "serious concerns and misgivings" about Lord Justice Leveson's recommendation of a new system supported by law.

But he is under huge pressure from campaigners who are furious that he has rejected the central proposal of the report and are insisting on full implementation.

His own backbenchers are also split and the Liberal Democrats and Labour are currently mostly united in favour, raising the prospect of a damaging Commons vote.

An online petition launched by campaign Hacked Off has so far attracted more than 135,000 signatures in favour of statutory underpinning.

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