Times: Cameron would block state intervention in press

Prime Minister David Cameron will veto statutory intervention in regulation of the press even if Lord Justice Leveson recommends it, the Times reports today.

The journalism industry has put forward a radically reformed version of self-regulation which retains the Press Complaints Commission but adds an investigation and compliance arm with powers to issue fines of up to £1m.

The plan, put forward by owners' body Pressbof, also suggests tying publishers into membership of the new body by controlling access to press cards, Press Association copy and major advertisers.

The Times reports today that Cameron will call for further concessions from press owners, including an insistence that the new body is more independent and does not involve serving editors.

Under the Pressbof plan, it is proposed that the new-look PCC will be run by a five-person board comprising two public members, two industry representatives and an independent chairman. Appointment of the chairman would need to be unanimous among the four, giving the industry an effective veto over the decision.

 

The Pressbof plan would see the 13-person Editors' Code Committee, which draws up the Editors' Code, include five public members for the first time. The adjudication panel which judges complaints would comprise seven public members, five editors appointed by press owners and the chairman.

The Pressbof plan would retain a system where being compelled publish a critical adjudication remains the ultimate sanction for normal complaints.

In cases of extreme wrongdoing, an investigative team comprising one industry representative (not a serving editor) and two non-industry figures would be set up. The five-person board of the regulator would have the power to issues fines of up to £1m.

Lord Justice Leveson is expected to issue a report based on his inquiry into the ethics of the press in the autumn.

The Times speculates today that he is expected to call for some form of statutory intervention to underpin whatever system of press regulation replaces the existing PCC.

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