David Cameron concerned over press regulation legislation

Friday 30 November 2012 18.18
British government urged to act swiftly
British government urged to act swiftly

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he supports the findings of the Leveson Inquiry, but has concerns about putting in place legislation to regulate the press.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron said: "I'm not convinced at this stage that statute is necessary to achieve Lord Leveson's objectives.

He said: “I believe there may be alternative options for putting in place incentives providing reassurance to the public and ensuring the Leveson principles of regulations are put in place."

Mr Cameron expressed "instinctive concern" about proposed changes to the data protection act, which would reduce the special treatment journalists are afforded.

"We must consider this very carefully, particularly the impact this could have on investigative journalism,” he said.

Meanwhile, the British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said he backs the recommendation of the Leveson Inquiry for new legislation to regulate the press.

His statement to the House of Commons is in contrast to that made earlier by Prime Minister David Cameron.

He said a free press is not one that is free to bully the innocent.

The deputy prime minister also compared what's been proposed in the report to the press council that operates in Ireland.

He said: "The laws that have been proposed give us a chance to create a hard between politics and the press.

As the report notes there is already an example of statutory underpinning in the Irish press council.

The statute has been accepted by a number of UK newspapers; The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Star, The Sun, The Sunday Times, The Mail on Sunday and The Sunday Mirror are all members, they all publish Irish editions.

I haven't yet heard these papers complain of a deeply illiberal press environment across the Irish sea." Mr Clegg said

Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted that British parliament should "put its faith" in the recommendations of Justice Leveson, and said he was sorry the prime minister was "not quite there".

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who was a victim of phone hacking, said: "The biggest condemnation in this document is of politics over the last 30 years, because Lord (Justice) Leveson said we have all failed and sometimes we failed to act because we were too frightened about what would be written in newspapers about us personally or about our party politics.

"So I just hope that no politician will be frightened into not taking action where action really is needed and where the public really want it.

"You can't just keep on writing lies and hope that nobody is going to slap your wrist."

Meanwhile, Madeleine McCann's mother Kate said today she hoped the Leveson report would mark the start of a new era for the press.

Mrs McCann urged Prime Minister David Cameron to "embrace the report and act swiftly".

Mrs McCann, whose daughter went missing when the family was on holiday in Portugal in 2007, gave moving evidence during the Leveson Inquiry about her experience at the hands of the media.

She said: "I welcome Lord Leveson's report and hope it will mark the start of a new era for our press in which it treats those in the news responsibly, with care and consideration."

Meanwhile, Singer Charlotte Church, has said that the Leveson Report: "offered up a reasoned and practical way of dealing with the problem we are faced with,

She continued: there have been many practices in the press for a long time which have been unethical, immoral and illegal in some areas".

Elsewhere, Chairman of the Press Council of Ireland Mr Dáithí O'Ceallaigh has said that the significance of the model of the Press Council of Ireland and of the Office of the Press Ombudsman has already been widely commented on in the Leveson report.

He said: "While no system of media accountability is perfect, I am satisfied that the experience of the structures which have existed in Ireland since 2007 demonstrates that we have a firm foundation here on which to build for the future."

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