Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs on the House of Commons’ Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee have written to the Privy Council, rejecting the rival Royal Charter put forward by the press for a new industry regulator.
The six MPs, who constitute a majority of the Committee, confirmed their preference for the Royal Charter agreed before Easter in Parliament after cross-party talks, which involved extensive meetings with the press and the victims of press abuse.
The letter is the latest submission to the consultation by the Privy Council on the petition by the Press Board of Finance Limited (‘Pressbof’), the industry body which funded the now discredited former regulator, the Press Complaints Commission.
It also comes as the Select Committee completes its hearings on the Royal Charter and recommendations of the Leveson enquiry. The latest session yesterday heard from the Newspaper Society and several regional newspaper groups, which were supporting Pressbof.
‘I have been contacted by a number of people to ask, after all the good work we did pursuing phone-hacking, where I and others stand on proposals for the future regulation of the press,’ said Committee member, Paul Farrelly, the Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme.
‘The purpose of this letter is to show where the feeling of the majority of the Select Committee lies - that is, firmly in favour of the Charter agreed after extensive debate in Parliament, and not the rival drawn up by Pressbof.’
‘At the end of the day, Pressbof, which is dominated by the big national newspapers, funded and oversaw a regime that failed because it was far too much controlled by the industry itself. This rival charter is a last ditch attempt to repeat the mistakes of the past and should be resisted, in the interests of effective, independent regulation and decent press standards.’
The further signatories to the letter are:
- Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport and the Labour MP for Exeter
- John Leech, Liberal Democrat MP for Manchester Withington
- Steve Rotheram, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton
- Jim Sheridan, Labour MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire North
- Gerry Sutcliffe, former Minister of Sport and Labour MP for Bradford South
The Privy Council is now due to consider the petitions for the Charter – which will underpin the new post-Leveson regime – at its meeting in June.
At yesterday’s Committee, Newspaper Society representatives said that Pressbof’s was currently the only one lodged with the Privy Council.
Following the meeting, therefore, Mr Farrelly tabled a written parliamentary question – due for answer on 3rd June, when Westminster returns from recess – asking Culture Secretary Maria Miller when the government intends to submit the cross-party Charter.
A copy of the MP’s submission - made to the Culture Secretary for the attention of the Privy Council, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – can be found by clicking here.