Victims of press intrusion and Hacked Off welcome Royal Charter underpinned by legislation to regulate the press

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The campaign group Hacked Off has welcomed today's cross-party deal on a Royal Charter underpinned by legislation to regulate the press.
 
Speaking at a press conference in Westminster this afternoon, executive director of Hacked Off, Professor Brian Cathcart, said: “Hacked Off welcomes the cross-party agreement on implementing the Leveson
recommendations on press self-regulation that was reached last night.
 
“We look forward to seeing Parliament finally have its say on these matters later this afternoon.

“The Royal Charter that they have accepted will introduce a new system that will protect the freedom of the press and at the same time protect the public from the kinds of abuses that made the Leveson Inquiry necessary.

“All parties are now clearly behind Leveson’s recommendations for an independent self-regulator that will deal fairly with complaints and will ensure that corrections are given due prominence.

 
“It will be able to mount effective investigations and where appropriate impose meaningful sanctions.”
 
Professor Cathcart said the group believed a Royal Charter was the "second best" option for reform and was critical of the time it had taken for an agreement to emerge.
 
He added: “We regret that it has taken four months to reach this point, but we are grateful to politicians of all of the leading parties for their efforts in bringing about this agreement.
 
“They have acted despite the scaremongering of powerful newspaper groups which had their say at the inquiry and didn’t like the outcome.
 
“Some papers have grossly misrepresented the Leveson Report and continue to do so.”
 
The press conference heard from victims of tabloid press intrusion who supported the reform plans.
 
Baroness Sheila Hollins, who had told the Leveson Inquiry how she suffered press intrusion when her daughter Abigail Witchalls was stabbed and paralysed in 2005, said she hoped press reform would protect other families.
 
She said: “As someone who has had experience of really unpleasant press intrusion I will be watching this very carefully to insure that no other families will not have to face what my family had to go through.”
 
Former police officer and Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames, who was put under surveillance by private detectives on the orders of the News of the World along with her former husband Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Cook, said today was an historic day for UK journalism.
 
She said: “This is bigger than politics, this is about the future of the press and journalism and hopefully, looking back at this day, we will begin to feel really proud of what can be achieved in a clean and honest press pursuing the stories that really matter.”
 

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