04/12/2012 10:26 GMT | Updated 04/12/2012 10:34 GMT

Leveson Report: National Newspaper Editors Meet Cameron To Discuss Press Regulation (PICTURES)

The editors came in two-by-two, trooping into Downing Street for a briefing with the Prime Minister on the Leveson Inquiry, the meeting of, arguably, the most powerful people in the country.

After two and a half years in power, told off by the press on a daily basis, it was Cameron's turn to lay down the law.

But the editors who went in and then emerged out of the black door did not look like they expected or had received a roasting.

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The editor of the London Evening Standard Sarah Sands, with editor of the London Mail On Sunday newspaper Geordie Greig

The Evening Standard's Sarah Sands was pictured smiling with Mail On Sunday's Geordie Greig, probably negotiating sharing a cab to their shared office in Kensington.

The Financial Times' Lionel Barber, dapper in a red and purple scarf, looked relaxed as he chatted to a colleague.

James Harding, editor of the Times, had his collar up against the wind but beamed at photographers.

The Spectator's Fraser Nelson, whose magazine has already said it will not sign up to a regulatory body underpinned by statute, reinforced his publication's bold stance by opting for a bold outfit, a bright blue blazer and purple tie.

Editor Alan Rusbridger arrived late from the Guardian's offices. The Sun's Dominic Mohan apparently was affronted at not being able to park his car outside Number 10.

And never one to miss a marketing opportunity, the Telegraph's Tony Gallagher posed outside for photographers, with a copy of his own publication tucked under his arm, masthead in full view, as he stood with the Independent's Chris Blackhurst.


The editor of the London Daily Telegraph newspaper Tony Gallagher, left with editor of the London Independent newspaper Chris Blackhurst

No-one looked on edge, not one looked concerned at the prospect of a ticking off by the PM.

They were all scooped by Cameron's announcement on Twitter, the Prime Minister keen to get his version of events about what went on behind closed doors out first.

Speaking after the meeting, Cameron said he had made clear that "the clock is ticking" for the industry to agree action.

"They have got to do it in a way that absolutely meets the requirement of Lord Justice Leveson's report," he said.

"That means million-pound fines, proper investigation of complaints, prominent apologies, a tough independent regulatory system.

"And they know, because I told them, the clock is ticking for this to be sorted out."

Daily Telegraph's Gallagher said the summit was attended by 19 editors and industry representatives, nine Whitehall officials and four ministers, including the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary.

Lloyd Embley, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People, said after the talks that there was "a firm belief that papers can deliver Leveson principles far more quickly without legislation".

Independent editor Chris Blackhurst said there was "movement" towards agreement that the new body had to be fully independent as the industry looked to return Cameron's "favour" of resisting statutory involvement.

"In a sense he did us a favour last week by not imposing statute. We have got to give something back," he told the Boulton & Co programme on Sky News.

"We have got to come up with a strong system of independent self-regulation. We haven't got much time. Independence has to mean that there can't be a majority of serving editors involved.

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Late? The Guardian's Alan Rusbridger was reportedly eight minutes late to the meeting

"It has to be something we can take to the public and to politicians and say 'This is independent' and they say 'Ah yes, we get that, that is independent'."

He said the crisis had created a "very strong unifying feeling" among papers from across the spectrum and a recognition that this was a final chance.

"We can't go through this again. This has to be the end... and something good is going to come out of this," he said.

Asked if Cameron had admonished editors over abuses, he joked: "I can't sit down, my bottom is so sore - it was well and truly spanked by the Prime Minister."

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Suited and booted, the Spectator's Fraser Nelson

The editor of the London Evening Standard, Sarah Sands, said the editors at the meeting understood the urgency of the situation and were committed to a "fast-track process" to come up with a solution.

"Newspaper editors, who are going to meet again tomorrow, are going to try and work out something which is true to the spirit and a lot of the letter of Leveson, just avoiding the dreaded word of statutory underpinning so that you genuinely know that what exists can't at a later stage become something else, become control by the state," she told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

"We are talking about a couple of weeks to try to come up with a solution that really satisfies everybody."

An online petition launched by campaign group Hacked Off has so far attracted more than 135,000 signatures in favour of statutory underpinning.

Members of the group complained about being left outside Downing Street as the editors filed in for the private meeting.

But others pointed out that the prime minister and other party leaders have, in fact, had several high-profile meetings with the group on media standards.