UK & World News
Leveson: Grant And Rowling Attack Cameron
Hugh Grant has urged MPs to back the Liberal Democrat and Labour plan for press regulation as he accused David Cameron of "sucking up" to press barons.
The Notting Hill actor, who is leading the Hacked Off campaign for stringent press controls in the wake of the hacking scandal, claimed on Sky News that the Prime Minister was turning his back on the victims.
Mr Cameron suddenly pulled out of cross-party talks about implementing Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations last week, declaring that the three main party leaders were too far apart.
The Tories are firmly opposed to any statutory regulation of the press and want a system backed by a Royal Charter.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats also want a Royal Charter but crucially their plan would be underpinned in legislation - raising fears about creeping restrictions on the freedom of the press.
MPs will now vote on the Tories' plans on Monday in what could turn into a major defeat for Mr Cameron as Labour and the Lib Dems look certain to unite against him, with Tory rebels also crossing the floor.
Before Mr Cameron's decision on Thursday, Grant had been personally speaking to members of the shadow cabinet to urge them not to reach an agreement "much too early".
But he dismissed the idea that Hacked off was a "smooth sinister operation", downplaying it as a "few dandruffy professors in a cheap office with a slightly insane, chess champion ex-Lib Dem MP and a couple of threadbare lawyers and me".
The actor said ordinary victims of press abuse had reacted with "horror and astonishment" to Mr Cameron's behaviour and accused him of breaking his word.
On Sky's Murnaghan show, he claimed: "For him, politically, it was more important to suck up to the newspapers than to fulfil the promise that he made under oath.
"(He said) that what mattered as an outcome to all this was that those victims should never be subject to those kind of abuses again."
He described the vote as "incredibly important" and said politicians would have to "ask their consciences" whether they were going to side with press barons or back the victims.
Grant added that his acting career, which sees him star in the upcoming film Cloud Atlas, is now less important than his campaigning to curb the excesses of the press.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling also spoke out on Sunday, saying in a statement that Mr Cameron's actions had left her feeling "hung out to dry".
"Monday's vote will make history one way or another - I am merely one among many turning their eyes towards Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and hoping that they have the courage to do what Cameron promised, but which he failed to deliver," she said.
The Prime Minister has said he will abide by the will of Parliament
Without an overall Commons majority, his allies accept he is unlikely to win sufficient support for using the threat of punitive damages against non-participants to persuade papers to sign up.
Despite efforts to shore up the vote - including bringing a minister back from Japan - a number of Tories are expected to back the Lib/Lab proposals.
Earlier on Murnaghan, Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes suggested as many as 60 Conservatives could side with Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.
Chancellor George Osborne expressed hope of a last-minute deal, warning that any regulatory system that did not have cross-party support would not last.
"We want to make sure we have a system of press regulation that prevents the abuses we saw in the past happening again, but also makes sure we have a free press in this country," he told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.
"That is such a precious thing: people fought - and literally died - to give us a free press."
Mr Miliband wrote in the The Observer that Monday was "the day that politics has got to do the duty by the victims and has got to stand up for the victims".
Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman told Murnaghan: "I think it is absolutely a straightforward issue - across the House of Commons the feeling is it is not right for the press not be accountable to a proper code of conduct.
"It is time for a proper tough regulator and that we don't slip back to what it was like before. We don't want ministers to tamper with the royal charter and change it afterwards - it can't be weakened down or toughened up later. And it must have teeth."
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what do you think?
I sympathise with anyone who suffered because the News of the World's disgraceful behaviour. However, it should also be remembered that it was a newspaper (the Telegraph) which blew the whistle on the equally disgraceful behaviour of MPs during the expenses scandal. There are also many so called celebrities, who would like nothing better than to muzzle the press This would mean that some of their (the celebrities) more outrageous activities go unreported. Surely, an acceptable middle ground can be found..............