Representatives of Hacked Off today met with Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Oliver Letwin, the Minister of State for Policy, to hear their proposals for press reform following the report of the Leveson Inquiry.
The Ministers confirmed that they propose the creation of a new body under Royal Charter to assess and if appropriate, recognise a new self-regulator that is being set up by the newspaper industry. They plan two new pieces of legislation, one to underpin this chartered body and another to put in place incentives for the press to join the self-regulator.
Professor Brian Cathcart, Director of Hacked Off, said after the meeting:
“We are pleased to hear that ministers now acknowledge that legislation is necessary to ensure that a regulator is effective and truly independent of politicians and the press.
“However, the proposals as outlined are not what we seek, which is the full and prompt implementation of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations, in the open and transparent manner he proposed.
“Victims of press harassment, phone hacking and other abuses want to see a permanent solution on the lines proposed by Leveson, so that others won’t have to go through what they suffered.
“It makes no sense for the Government to bin the carefully thought-through proposals presented by the judge, in favour of this rushed and overcomplicated response.
“We urge ministers now to do as the judge recommended. Instead of engaging in elaborate political manoeuvres that rely on undemocratic royal prerogative, they should introduce a single, straightforward bill to Parliament that creates an effective recognition body and at the same time guarantees press freedom.
“As Gerry McCann has said, this is the very minimum required to protect the public in the future from the kinds of abuses that made the Leveson Inquiry necessary.”
Hacked Off and the Ministers will meet again in the new year.