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British press regulation talks break down: Cameron

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that all-party talks on press regulation following the phone-hacking scandal had broken down and that lawmakers would vote on a new system next week.

The Conservative leader rejected demands from his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and the opposition Labour party for statutory regulation, as recommended last year by the Leveson report into the News of the World hacking scandal.

Cameron said he would instead ask lawmakers to vote on Monday on his plans for a Royal Charter, which would provide backing for a new watchdog for Britain's raucous press without actually putting regulation into law.

"Statutory regulation is not neccessary to enforce the Leveson principles," the premier told a hastily arranged press conference at his official Downing Street residence.

"It is wrong to cross that rubicon by writing key elements of press regulations into the law of the land."

A royal charter is a special document used to establish and set out the terms of organisations including the BBC and the Bank of England.

Cameron launched a judicial inquiry into press ethics led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson in July 2011 in the wake of the News of the World scandal.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid was shut down in disgrace after it emerged it had hacked the mobile phone voicemails of hundreds of celebrities, politicians and ordinary people.

In his conclusions last year, Leveson called for a new, tougher independent regulatory body backed by legislation.

Cameron's announcement came as police said they had arrested four journalists on Thursday over a suspected phone-hacking conspiracy at the Sunday Mirror, the News of the World's rival.

Around 100 people have been arrested under various phone-hacking and corruption investigations since January 2010.

Several people have been charged including Prime Minister David Cameron's former media chief Andy Coulson and former News International chief Rebekah Brooks.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130314/british-press-regulation-talks-break-down-cameron