Government seeks eleventh-hour compromise over Royal Charter

Culture secretary Maria Miller has written to her Labour and Liberal Democrat counterparts on press regulation urging further concessions to secure newspaper support for her Royal Charter.

Miller wrote to Labour’s Harriet Harman and Liberal Democrat MP Jim Wallace who dealing with the issue on behalf of their respective parties.

According to a report in the Guardian, Miller suggested that changes to the “parliamentary lock” designed to prevent political interference could secure the support of the newspaper owners.

Under the original plan changes to the Royal Charter would require a two-thirds majority of both houses of Parliament.

Miller was forced to act after Pressbof announced plans for a judicial review to derail her own Royal Charter proposal.

The Privy Council are set to meet on Wednesday where they had intended signing-off the Royal Charter.

Pressbof want to use the time afforded by the judicial review to introduce the Independent Press Standards Organisation

Managing editor of The Sun Stig Abell  outlined the fear newspapers have of the Royal Charter process.

He said: “The judicial review reflects a theological point. A view that the industry holds quite dearly that for 300 years we have not had the politicians with a direct means of interfering.”

“Ultimately they need a two-thirds majority of Parliament and what’s the one issue that you can probably unite parliamentarians on and that’s a distain and a disagreement of the press. They can influence the recognition body and that can influence the regulator.”

Miller also faces criticism from the House of Lords, where Lord Inglewood, chairman of the Communications Committee said there has not been enough discussion on the issue.

“We are, however, united in the view that the parliamentary consideration of the draft Royal Charter is not adequate.

"Given the constitutional importance of the freedom of the press, and the political topicality and controversy surrounding this subject, we do not feel anything less than a full debate on the final text is appropriate and I am writing to request, even at this late stage, one be held."

The Guardian quoted a Conservative source about Miller’s new initiative: “We are strengthening the proposals. These concessions are ones we want to get through to make it more workable. We see it as quite a substantial change."

 

 

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