Labour shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman joins Sajid Javid in taking 'step back' from press regulation

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman has joined Conservative Culture Secretary Sajid Javid in distancing herself from the issue of press regulation.

Javid said in April that he didn’t “see any further role for Government in this”.

And shadow culture secretary Harman (pictured, bottom left, Reuters), in an interview with Total Politics, has similarly said the time has arrived for politicians to “step back” from the debate.

It comes at a time when the Independent Press Standards Organisation has been backed by most major newspaper and magazine publishers, but not by the Financial Times, Guardian and Independent. It has also been derided by press victims group Hacked Off.

But Harman said: “[I]t’s not for any of us to say IPSO is a good thing or bad thing. We step back from the issue of who joins what regulator, or whether they join any regulator, we just say we need a system of recognition to be set up so they can open up for business and so a regulator can come forward and say ‘we could be recognised’.”

IPSO has said it has no plans to seek official recognition under the press regulation Royal Charter agreed in a cross-party deal.

In a wide-ranging interview, Harman also suggested alternatives to the BBC licence fee agreement should be considered in case a better option exists.

Harman also said she had written to Javid on the subject of the appointment of a new BBC Trust chairman. She told Total Politics: “It’s one of those appointments that needs to be done not on a party political basis, and therefore a big responsibility falls on him to act in the public interest, not in a partisan way, so we’ve written to him to urge him not to behave like that.”

Elsewhere, Harman questioned the success of the local TV scheme set up by the current Government. Former Labour culture secretary Ben Bradshaw told Press Gazette last year that his party had looked at the scheme but considered it a “non-starter”.

Harman said of local TV: “Well… and where is that precisely in terms of delivery, in terms of outcome?”

Asked whether she watches London Live, she said: “Well, we’ll see, good luck to London Live.”

She added: “However, London Live is not the entire country. Let’s see, but certainly in loads of areas it’s evident what has gone into but not very evident as to what has come out of it.

“I wish them well, those of them who are doing it, but you had to take a little while working out and trying to remember local TV.”

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