The threat of statutory press regulation is still remains despite the passing of the Government’s Royal Charter, culture secretary Maria Miller revealed today.
Miller told Parliament during ministerial questions: “The very essence that was put forward in the Leveson report was self-regulation. I believe what we have got here is a way forward that will safeguard the freedom of the press and also make sure that we have got a system of redress in place when mistakes and errors are made.
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“I think that it is important that we make this Royal Charter work and I believe it is the best way to stave-off the statutory regulation of the press that some are trying to impose.”
Miller asked whether Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman would join her to stave off “any pressure of the statutory regulation of the press because it is clear that some are still trying to use that as a threat".
Miller admitted that the newspaper industry has made “good progress” in its bid to establish a self regulator.
However she refused to answer directly questions on what plan the Government had if the newspaper industry did not seek recognition for its own self regulator.
She said: “All sides support the self regulation of the press, the Royal Charter sets out the principals for self regulators if they wish to be recognised and take advantage of costs and damages incentives. The choice to sign up is with the industry.”
Miller denied there had been inadequate discussion on the future of the press in Parliament.
“I think we have had a great deal of debate about the future of self regulation of the press whether it was through the Leveson inquiry itself or whether it’s between the subsequent debates in this place and the other place – eleven in all.
“…The important thing is that we make this work for the industry and for people seeking redress."
Sir Gerald Howarth, Conservative MP for Aldershot said the “Press Barons” should accept the will of Parliament and that of the people and seek recognition for their new regulator.