UK & World News
Miller 'Hopeful' Of Press Regulation Deal
Culture Secretary Maria Miller has expressed hope that a cross-party deal on press regulation could still be struck ahead of a crunch Commons vote.
Maria Miller said a "Labour climbdown" over the issue of statutory regulation of the press has brought them closer to the Conservative position.
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 their plan would be underpinned in legislation - raising fears about creeping restrictions on the freedom of the press.
Last week Prime Minister David Cameron suddenly pulled out of cross-party talks about implementing Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations, saying the positions of the three parties were too far apart.
Hinting Labour's stance had changed, Ms Miller said: "Labour has been trying to push through a tough form of statutory regulation for the press with really unacceptable consequences for freedom of speech in this country. I think their climbdown from that position has put them much closer to our position and I think that is to be welcomed.
"Now we are trying to make sure they (Labour) are very clear on the problems with their previous recommendations with regards to statutory underpinning. I hope that the discussion we have over the next 24 hours can really make sure we come together and have real solution here."
Her comments came as it was revealed Mr Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met on Sunday to discuss the matter, although a Conservative source insisted the issue remained unsolved and talks were ongoing.
Labour meanwhile said it had not had any approach for fresh talks and would remain "resolute" in pushing for tough controls tomorrow to protect victims of press intrusion.
Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said the party had "always said we would like to reach agreement" which could be brought to the Commons as a united position.
"There are just a few issues that remain between us, but they are quite important ones," she told Sky News.
Following Ms Miller's comments, a senior Lib Dem source said: "We are continuing discussions to try to secure agreement on the Royal Charter Plus that we published on Friday."
If a compromise is not reached and Labour and the Liberal Democrats unite, the Commons vote could be major defeat for Mr Cameron.
Earlier, actor Hugh Grant, 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.
On Sky's Murnaghan show, he said: "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."
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.
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.