Hacked Off welcomes the cross-party agreement on implementing the Leveson recommendations on press self-regulation that was reached last night. We look forward to seeing Parliament finally have its say on these matters later this afternoon.
The Royal Charter that they have accepted will introduce a new system that will protect the freedom of the press and at the same time protect the public from the kinds of abuses that made the Leveson Inquiry necessary.
All parties are now clearly behind Leveson’s recommendations for an independent self-regulator that will deal fairly with complaints and will ensure that corrections are given due prominence. It will be able to mount effective investigations and where appropriate impose meaningful sanctions. It will offer an arbitration service that is free for the public to access, and there will be no press veto on who runs it.
This is what Lord Justice Leveson recommended in November after a long inquiry in which he heard the views of every relevant group. He did not recommend the use of Royal Charter and we believe Charter is second best, but we believe that this charter can effectively deliver his proposals on self-regulation.
The Charter will be protected by a minimal clause of statute. This protection is needed because royal charter bodies are normally closely overseen by the Privy Council, a committee of ministers. In other words, without that clause of statute, politicians would be free to meddle with the new self-regulation system.
We regret that it has taken four months to reach this point, but we are grateful to politicians of all of the leading parties for their efforts in bringing about this agreement. They have acted despite the scaremongering of powerful newspaper groups which had their say at the inquiry and didn’t like the outcome. Some papers have grossly misrepresented the Leveson Report and continue to do so.
We look forward now to the formal promulgation of the Royal Charter and the passing of the necessary protective clause of statute. After that, we hope the press will see the sense in participating fully in a system that will give them a chance to rebuild trust in newspaper journalism.