Culture Secretary sees no further role for Government in press regulation

New Culture Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured above:Reuters) has said that he sees no further role for the Government in the issue of press regulation.

This is despite the fact that a system of press regulation agreed in a cross-party deal and put into place by his department is currently dead in the water.

Most national newspaper publishers and many regional publishers and magazine groups have instead signed up to their own new regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation. While this complies with many of the recommendations in the Leveson report, it falls short on independence from the industry and provison of a libel disputes arbitration service.

This means that publishers who sign up to IPSO are still subject to the threat of possible punitive costs in libel and privacy cases under the provisions of the Crime and Courts Act.

IPSO is set to be up and running on 1 June.

Javid told The Times: "In terms of the role of this department . . . the work has been done, and it is now a decision for the press what they want to do next. I don’t see any further role for Government in this.

“Notwithstanding the fact that any industry has its bad apples, I think our press is the best in the world. It is fearless without favour.”

A spokesman for the pressure group Hacked Off said: "Mr Javid is factually correct that there is nothing for his department to do for now because the Charter body is being set up; and if the press continue with PCC Mark 2 as some of them will, then the court costs penalties already passed in last years Crime and Courts Act will take effect.

"Neither the Conservatives nor the Government will be able to put the matter to bed until the press comply with Leveson, as the PM said last December.  The victims of press abuse still remember the sworn commitment given to Lord Justice Leveson from Mr Cameron to deliver reform which works for those ordinary people like the Dowlers and the McCanns who had been thrown to the wolves.

"In his desire to ingratiate himself with the press barons, which is a old habit of politicians, the Culture Secretary should pause to remember the victims of press abuse, the backing that scores of writers and creative leaders gave the Royal Charter just last month, the five active police investigations, the hundreds of potential civil claims and the current criminal trial of the Prime Minister's former press secretary."

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