Lord Justice Leveson Could Get Press Regulation Role Under Labour Plan

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LEVESON
Labour has unveiled plans for how it would like to see the press regulated | PA

Labour's proposals for the future regulation of the press could hand Lord Justice Leveson the job of overseeing the newspapers.

On Monday Labour unveiled a draft Bill that would result in the Lord Chief Justice, the top judge in the country, overseeing a new body of self-regulation, which would be underpinned by law.

One of the leading contenders for the role is ... Brian Leveson. The Independent reported last month that Leveson is a leading candidate to take over from the incumbent Igor Judge.

Leveson's proposals that a new system of press regulation be underpinned by law has divided parliament, with David Cameron opposed to any statutory regulation and Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband in favour.

Labour proposes:

:: A panel headed by the Lord Chief Justice which recognises a press regulatory body and determines every three years whether the body is doing its job properly;

:: The body, named the Press Standards Trust, would be recognised by the Lord Chief Justice if a majority of newspapers are trust members;

:: Newspapers should be encouraged to join the trust through incentives of lower levels of high court damages and costs;

:: The requirement that ministers and public agents protect press freedom;

:: Criteria by which the judiciary determine whether the trust has shown it is carrying out its functions, such as composition of the trust board, its investigation of complaints and its publication of a code, including guidance on the definition of public interest. The trust could only impose fines in cases of serious and systematic non-compliance.

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said: “This Bill puts into effect the central recommendation of Lord Justice Leveson’s report – legal backing for the new system of independent self-regulation by the press. The Bill would ensure that the system was verified at the outset and given a health check once every three years.

“This Bill is an offer to MPs on all sides of the House who want to implement Leveson’s proposals. It shows that a Bill can be done in a way that is not cumbersome or invasive, and we look forward to discussing it in the cross-party talks on Thursday.”

Nick Clegg welcomed the draft Bill, saying it is proof in principle that legislation is workable.

Cameron is deeply opposed to state regulation of the media, a stance echoed by the vast majority of the newspaper industry.

The three leaders are due to meet on Thursday to thrash out a way forward, all are agreed that there needs to be more robust regulation of the press.

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