Cross-party talks on proposed reforms to press regulation have broken down after Prime Minister David Cameron told the other party leaders that the gap between them was too great.
Cameron is shortly expected to announce plans to put Conservative proposals for a Royal Charter to underpin a new press regulator to a vote in the House of Commons on Monday.
- November 21, 2017
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Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg have been pushing for legislation to back up the new system, as proposed by Lord Justice Leveson in his report on phone hacking.
There is also believed to have been concern that the press owners will have a represenative on the Recognition Panel which will licence the new press regulator under the Royal Charter plan.
But in a phone conversation between the three leaders this morning, Cameron told them they were trying to push him beyond a position he was comfortable with and beyond something the press would sign up to.
A senior Labour source said: "The Prime Minister's decision is very disappointing.
"We still hope for an agreement. We still believe there can be an agreement. We urge the Prime Minister to reflect on his actions."
In his response to the Leveson Inquiry's recommendations in November, Cameron said he wanted to see a new strong regulator for the press, able to impose penalties of £1 million, but had "serious concerns and misgivings" in principle to any statutory interference in the media.
He made clear then that he did not want to "cross the Rubicon" into writing elements of press regulation into the law.
Following the publication of the Leveson Report, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin drew up plans for an independent body, backed by Royal Charter, to oversee the press self-regulation system.
Cameron believed that this provided a workable solution to the impasse, but the plan has come under attack from supporters of reform, including the Hacked Off campaign, who want Leveson's recommendations implemented in full.
A series of cross-party discussions culminated in a meeting yesterday between Cameron, Miliband and Clegg at which no agreement was reached. This morning's phone call appears to have brought an end to the process.