Press industry leaders welcome Cameron stand against statutory-backing for press regulation

A group of senior press industry figures has said David Cameron is right to reject statutory regulation of the press.

A joint statement was issued today by regional press body the Newspaper Society which was also signed by Paul Ashford for Northern and Shell, Guy Black of the Press Standards Board of Finance, Tim Blott of the Scottish Newspaper Society, Paul Dacre for the Daily Mail, Barry McIlheney of the PPA, Murdoch MacLennan of Telegraph Media Group, David Newell of the Newspaper Society and John Witherow of News International.

National press trade body – the Newspaper Publishers Association – did not sign the statement, perhaps reflecting the fact that The Guardian, Independent and Financial Times this week backed using statute to strengthen the Royal Charter.

The statement says:

We share the Prime Minister’s frustration at the way in which talks about the future of press regulation have broken down and legislation has been hijacked.

The Prime Minister is right to reject statutory regulation of the press – free of political control for 300 years – as fundamentally wrong in principle and unworkable in practice.

The industry has spent many weeks in negotiating a new independent system of self regulation, based on the Leveson principles, which provides £1 million fines and the toughest system of regulation in the western world. We have made major concessions in order to reach agreement, although there are elements of the proposed reforms – such as exemplary damages – to which we remain opposed.  However, this need not stop a new regulator being put in place.

We agree with the Prime Minister that matters cannot be allowed to drift on and that we need now to deliver real change.

The UK’s newspaper and magazine publishing industry will rise to the challenge. We are ready to move with speed to establish a new system of tough, independent, effective self regulation which delivers fully on the Leveson principles and will provide real protection for members of the public. We will aim to get the new regulator up and running as soon as possible. 

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