by Brian Cathcart
Not only do the Liberal Democrats endorse the need for independent regulation of the press and accept that it may be necessary to bolster it with legislation – both of them views held by Hacked Off – but they also see no need to negotiate on the issue with their coalition partners, the Conservatives.
That was the message from the party conference in Brighton, where a team from Hacked Off met the party leader, Nick Clegg, and a number of senior parliamentarians, advisers and activists.
Clegg also stressed, none the less, that he still hoped the three main parties would act together on press reform when Lord Justice Leveson reports in the next few weeks, as they did in July 2011 when the Leveson Inquiry was established. This too is what Hacked Off (which is non-party) hopes to see.
Speaking to a Hacked Off delegation including phone hacking victims Steve Coogan and Joan Smith, the deputy prime minister repeated that he wanted to see Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations implemented providing they were ‘proportionate and workable’.
He explained that this was a party position unaffected by the coalition agreement with the Conservatives, indicating that it was not something that he would feel obliged to reach agreement on with David Cameron. But he added that the best outcome would be if Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats renewed cross-party cooperation on the issue.
Hacked Off also staged a well-attended fringe meeting at the conference, in partnership with the National Union of Journalists and the Coordinating Committee for Media Reform. Hacked Off’s Dr Evan Harris was in the chair, with a panel comprising Steve Coogan, Adrian Sanders MP, Professor Steve Barnett, Angela Phillips (CCMR) and NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet.
See also: Nick Clegg’s comments on press reform at the Liberal Democrat conference Q&A (transcript) – ‘Clegg backs independent press regulation’
Brian Cathcart is director of Hacked Off. He tweets at @BrianCathcart