Monday, 18 March 2013

Leveson reaches a conclusion

It's approaching 12 midnight and we are still debating Leveson and the Royal Charter.
For my speech and contributions see here:
I spoke briefly this evening and support the compromise that has been reached, although I am never happy when we have regulation or law that is created at speed.
This Charter has been a long time coming but a short time in the physical draftying, which is never a good thing. I would have wanted more time but the government was bounced into a speedy resolution.
Much will depend on the House of Lords tweaking and improving on the draft Royal Charter on the press, when it considers the Charter in detail; but, on balance, I believe we have a reasonably good all party agreement; I spoke in the brief time I had in the House tonight on the issue of costs, exemplary damages, arbitration and the objectives of my constituents.
The Charter provides for many things but includes:
- proper apologies from the press to victims of bad practice
- fines of 1% of turnover for publishers, up to £1million maximum in truly extreme cases
- a self-regulatory body with independent appointments and funding
- a robust standards code
- a free arbitration service for victims
- an attempt at speeding up the complaints system
The charter defines publishers as newspapers, magazines or websites containing news-related material.
A paper that commits wrongdoing is now more accountable - that is clear.
A paper which believes in its story should have nothing to fear.

UPDATE: yesterday Wednesday Hacked Off, the campaign group, rang me for the first time to lobby me about my comments in my speech. I replied by explaining that I did not wish to speak to them, not least because I have been flat out on constituency business / speaking and debating in the House.
I would expect many papers not to sign up to this system but it remains to be seen by how much the proposed charter will be amended in the House of Lords on Monday.