Leveson law amendments to Defamation Bill are 'unacceptable', says Commons Leader

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Legislation currently going through Parliament aimed at implementing the Leveson Report's recommendations on press regulation is "unacceptable", Commons Leader Andrew Lansley said.

 
He added that he hoped cross-party talks on Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations would result in an agreement on how to proceed.
 
Changes inserted into the Defamation Bill by peers would set up an arbitration system, recognised by a statutory body along the lines suggested by the report on press standards.
 
The amendments, tabled by Labour peer and film producer Lord Puttnam but passed with the help of rebel Tory and Liberal Democrat peers, have been opposed by ministers.
 
The Defamation Bill's reforms of libel law have now been cast into doubt because the Government will not let the legislation pass unless the Leveson elements can be removed.
 
Although the "Puttnam amendment" was watered down before the Bill left the Lords, it is "still unacceptable", Lansley said.
 
He gave details of future business to be considered by MPs, but no date was set for the Defamation Bill's return to the House.
 
Lansley said the Conservatives had published their proposals for a Royal Charter to implement the Leveson principles.
 
"Those are the subject of cross-party discussions and I do urge those to proceed and come to a successful conclusion," he said.
 
"I hope that those agreements will take place that will enable us to proceed with the Defamation Bill without those amendments and deal with Leveson properly."
 
Shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle asked him: "It's three months since Lord Justice Leveson published his report.
 
"Do you agree with me it's vital we make sure that what happened to the Dowlers, the McCanns and countless other victims of press intrusion can never happen again?
 
"The debate that we had in this place before Christmas and the amendments attached to the Defamation Bill in the other place demonstrate clearly that parliamentarians from across all parties and across both Houses support the implementation of Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations."

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