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Friday 8th March 2013 | 17:59
Hacked Off press release
Lords plan new vote on Leveson if Charter talks fail
Amendments tabled to Enterprise Bill would free up Libel Reform legislation
The crossbench peer Lord Skidelsky has tabled amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (ERR), to give full effect to the majority of the Leveson recommendations for reform of press regulation. The amendments, creating a ‘Recognition Body’ for an independent self-regulator for the press, including a free arbitration service, have cross-party support and
the backing of victims of press abuses.
These amendments adhere as closely as possible to the wording of the original Leveson proposals. They are based on published and consulted-upon Leveson bills and drafted with the assistance of Hugh Tomlinson QC, chair of Hacked Off and Daniel Greenberg, former parliamentary counsel.
Hacked Off regards these amendments as a serious, carefully considered attempt to introduce an effective system of self regulation for the press, after seventy years of failure and six inquiries into press standards.
Hacked Off believes that if the amendments to the ERR Bill are passed, the Defamation Bill amendments on Leveson would become redundant and could be removed to facilitate the continued passage of the Defamation Bill, which Hacked Off fully supports.
Due to the scope of the bill, it is possible that some elements of the Leveson Report cannot be amended into the ERR Bill. We are confident that other legislative options are available to incorporate these parts of the Leveson package.
Commenting on the amendments, Professor Brian Cathcart, Executive Director of Hacked Off said:
“We now have to face the prospect that talks to improve the Royal Charter and remedy its many faults are likely to fail.
“The Charter as published falls far short of a regulatory system that is sufficiently independent of the newspaper industry or the Government.
“If the Government cannot abide by the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson, the victims of press abuses for whom we speak believe that the will of Parliament should be heard.
“Hacked Off agrees that it is prudent for the Lords to be ready with a plan for press self-regulation which complies with the independent recommendations of the judge.”