All the trade bodies representing UK newspaper publishers have written to Culture Secretary Maria Miller promising to establish a new system of press regulation in accordance with the “Leveson principles”.
This follows a meeting last week at which all the national newspaper editors agreed they could accept all the recommendations from Lord Leveson bar those involving statutory underpinning.
PCC chairman Lord Hunt has said he is working with lawyers now to get the new system of regulation up and running by early next year.
If the industry can prove that the new system satisfied the recommendations of Leveson it may stave off the threat of legislation. Both the Lib Dems and the Labour Party favour a legislation to guarantee the independence and effectiveness of the new regulator.
But Conservative leader David Cameron has given the industry the chance to beef up its own regulation plan so that it complies with Leveson.
The letter is signed by the Newspaper Society (regionals), Newspaper Publishers Association (nationals), Scottish Newspaper Society, Professional Publishers Association (magazines) and PressBof (the body which collects levies for the PCC.
It says:”We can confirm that we are committed to establishing a new system of independent self regulation in accordance with the five Leveson Principles outlined by the Prime Minister and have agreed that Lord Hunt should be the point of contact between publishers and the
“We accept the clear majority of Lord Justice Leveson’s main recommendations, although we still have legal work to undertake on a very small number of areas including principally appointments, confidentiality of sources, allegedly discriminatory reporting and funding structures. This will be completed by next week. We are also taking forward urgently the recommendations from Lord Justice Leveson on the provision of an arbitral arm to the new regulator.
“Work is now underway on the provision of a draft contract and regulations, which will be compliant with the Principles. A working croup, drawn from lawyers, editors and senior executives across the industry, will be coordinating this activity, and will be reporting to Lord Hunt as soon as is practical.”
The five Leveson principles outlined by the Prime Minister which the new body will meet are: Independence of appointments and funding, a standards code, an arbitration service, a speedy complaint-handling mechanism, power to demand up-front, prominent apologies and impose million-pound fines.