As he summed up today’s debate on press regulation, the Prime Minister repeatedly stressed that the new system was a voluntary one, with incentives for journalists to join. It marked a shift in the tone from the leaders at the start of the debate: the Prime Minister was now trying to coax the industry to join the new system leaders had agreed on. Perhaps it was this statement from the Newspaper Society that made him a little more conciliatory:
‘We would like to make it clear that, contrary to reports broadcast by the BBC this morning, no representative of the newspaper and magazine industry had any involvement in, or indeed any knowledge of, the cross-party talks on press regulation that took place on Sunday night.
‘We have only late this afternoon seen the Royal Charter that the political parties have agreed between themselves and, more pertinently, the Recognition Criteria, early drafts of which contained several deeply contentious issues which have not yet been resolved with the industry.
‘In the light of this we are not able to give any response on behalf of the industry to this afternoon’s proposals until we have had time to study them.’
What has irritated the industry is that, even though Cameron has been careful to paint himself as the champion of press freedom, their representatives were not present at the cross-party talks over the weekend when Hacked Off had four people present. If the government can’t get the press on side for the new system, then today’s congratulations in the Chamber will seem rather hollow: cross-party talks that failed to implement something workable won’t seem quite so successful at that stage.Tags: Leveson, Press regulation, UK politics