Cameron plan to log ministerial meetings with journalists

Prime Minister David Cameron has outlined details of the upcoming inquiry into phone-hacking and media standards, including the appointment of one of the UK’s most senior judges Lord Justice Leveson to oversee it.

The inquiry will be split into two parts and established under the 2005 Inquiries Act – giving it the power to summon journalists, politicians, and proprietors under oath.

The first part will look at areas including the culture, practices and ethics of journalism; the relationship between the politicians and the press; the failure of the current system of press regulation; why previous warnings about the national press went unheeded; and cross-media ownership.

The first part of the inquiry is expected to report back within 12 months.

The second part will look into allegations of unlawful conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers; the original police investigation into phone-hacking at the NoW; allegations police corruption; and the wider relationship between police and the press.

Lord Justice Leveson will be assisted by a panel including senior figures from the world of the the press, broadcasting, regulation and the Government, and will report to the Home Secretary and the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport.

Cameron also announced he was consulting with the Cabinet Secretary on amending the Ministerial Code so that ministerial meetings with journalists would have to be recorded.

On the subject of press regulation, Cameron said he preferred the term ‘independent regulation’to “self-regulation”, because the latter had ‘got rather a bad name of late”.

Cameron said he wanted ‘not just a free press but a free and vigorous press”.

UPDATE 13/7/11 5.07pm

The PCC Press Complaints Commission has issued the following statement in response to Cameron’s announcement

“The Press Complaints Commission today welcomes the announcement of the terms of the inquiry into media ethics.

“Last week, the Commission issued a statement making clear its intention to review its own constitution and funding arrangements, the range of sanctions available to it, and its practical independence.

“This will become a key contribution to the inquiry. Like the Prime Minister, the PCC remains committed to the establishment of a more effective system, one that supports appropriate freedoms, but demands the highest ethical standards. The PCC, and its independent members (who are in the majority), has led the call for appropriate reform. We welcome the consensus of Parliament that the model of regulation for the press should continue to be a non-statutory one.

“The idea of reformed media practices is one that is supported by the PCC, and must be supported by the industry itself.

“It has been striking that the volume of complaints and contact from members of the public to the PCC has been undiminished by events of recent days. This bears witness to the fact that the necessary work of the Commission, through its dedicated staff, is accepted as valuable. This is a public service that must go on during the inquiry, or members of the public will suffer.”

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