Friday 19 January 2018

New plans for press watchdog to be set out today

Lord Justice Leveson
Lord Justice Leveson

Sam Lister

NEW plans for a charter to oversee a new press watchdog in the wake of the phone hacking scandal will be set out today.

The proposals would create a body that would verify whether a new regulator set up by the industry met the requirements laid out by Lord Justice Leveson after his inquiry into media ethics last year.

It would be independent of MPs and newspapers but would not need to be enshrined in law as recommended by Leveson and demanded by press reform campaigners.

Labour and the Lib Dems have also previously backed calls for the new press watchdog system to be backed by legislation.

But the Conservatives are confident that both parties will support the draft charter.

Campaigners said yesterday that David Cameron had failed to give them assurances that the proposals would be "fully compliant" with Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations.

Hacked Off directors Brian Cathcart and Evan Harris met the Prime Minister ahead of the publication of the plans.

Mr Cathcart said he had not seen full details of the charter but believed Mr Cameron had "compromised" with the press.

Mr Cathcart said: "He appears to be of the view that the draft charter is a solution and will deliver Leveson. That was his language.

"When we probed we found plenty to worry us."

Speaking at a Hacked Off conference yesterday, Gerry McCann, who was paid damages by several newspapers over reporting of the case of his missing daughter Madeleine, said: "Leveson without the law is meaningless."

He said: "The Leveson package, including the legal underpinning, is the minimum acceptable compromise for us, and judging by the polls, for the public at large too."

He added: "When the Prime Minister promised to protect those who have been 'picked up and thrown to the wolves' by this process, we hoped for real change."

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