Tory MPs push for independent system of press regulation
A number of Conservative MPs have asked for the state to play a part in press regulation.
The letter, which was published in the Guardian, from 42 MPs and two peers opposed newspaper’s continued inclination for self-regulation after the Leveson enquiry.
While undoubtedly favouring a free press, the letter adds: “There are fundamental weaknesses in the current model of self-regulation which cannot be ignored.
“No-one wants our media controlled by the government but, to be credible, any new regulator must be independent of the press as well as from politicians.
“We are concerned that the current proposal put forward by the newspaper industry would lack independence and risks being an unstable model destined to fail, like previous initiatives over the past 60 years.”
The letter suggested that a “genuinely independent system” of regulation needs to be created, while supporting Prime Minister David Cameron’s view that “obsessive argument about the principle of statutory regulation can cloud the debate”.
The letter noted that state regulation in law and broadcasting has not stopped the autonomy of the legal profession or of TV channels.
The politicians who support this view illustrated the Leveson Inquiry as a “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put things right” and called on parliament to face the challenges the report created.
The letter further explained that “the worst excesses of the press have stemmed from the fact that the public interest defence has been too elastic and, all too often, has meant whatever editors wanted it to mean.
“To protect both robust journalism and the public, it is now essential to establish a single standard for assessing the public interest test which can be applied independently and consistently.”
A source further said: “As Conservatives, we are reluctant regulators and we firmly believe in a free press, and want to help newspapers survive, but they have to meet us half way.
“Their refusal to countenance any kind of statutory change to raise standards is no longer acceptable to the Conservative party.”