Dec 1 2012
David Cameron will warn Fleet Street it must take swift action to set up an independent press watchdog in crunch talks with the industry next week.
The Prime Minister will "drop in" on a meeting with editors being hosted by Culture Secretary Maria Miller next Tuesday and call for a timetable to be set for creating the new organisation, Downing Street said. Lord Justice Leveson called for newspapers to devise the independent regulatory body but wants it to be backed up in law.
Ms Miller will appeal to the powerful group not to "drag its feet" when it comes to implementing the powerful new system, which Conservatives hope would help quash claims legislation is needed to make it truly effective.
Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt of Wirral, who is down to attend the meeting, has called for a new regulator to be in place within months "There's an awful lot we can agree on and I have suggested to the industry (that we) all read the report, digest it and seek out the common ground and unite with one voice," he told The Times.
The Prime Minister has indicated he plans to spike the so-called "Leveson law", which would back up the new independent regulator with statutory underpinning, warning he has "serious concerns and misgivings" about legislative action.
But Mr Cameron, who wants to secure a consensus on Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations, faces intense pressure to legislate from victims of press intrusion, the public and other party leaders.
The report has ratcheted up Coalition tensions with the Liberal Democrats saying they are prepared to back the regulatory system and slapping down Tory claims that draft laws were only being drawn up to demonstrate the proposals were unworkable.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has urged his followers on Twitter to sign campaign group Hacked Off's online petition calling for all of the recommendations to be implemented in full. It has already attracted 67,000 signatures since it was launched on Friday by Gerry McCann, father of missing Madeleine, and Christopher Jefferies, the landlord wrongly arrested for the murder of Joanna Yeates.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who gave evidence to the inquiry, also waded into the row saying she felt "duped and angry" by the Tory leader's stance.
Lord Justice Leveson condemned the "culture of reckless and outrageous journalism" that dominated sections of the press for decades as he unveiled the findings of his 16-month inquiry earlier this week. The Appeal Court judge called for a new watchdog with statutory underpinning to be given the power to require prominent apologies and impose fines of as much as £1 million.