Conservative MPs sign letter against statutory press regulation


More than 40 Conservative MPs have signed a letter asking British prime minister David Cameron to resist calls for statutory regulation of the press ahead of the publication of the Leveson report.

The letter, written by Tory MP Conor Burns and former Labour home secretary David Blunkett, instead urges the prime minister to back a new press regulator to replace the Press Complaints Commission.

Mr Burns said he did not favour the status quo but believed that Lord Hunt, PCC chairman, should be given a chance to see if the new body could work.

The peer has said that Richard Desmond, proprietor of the Daily Express and Star newspapers, has signalled his willingness to abide by the new group despite having remained outside the PCC.

The letter, which will be published this week, will be seen as a riposte to a separate letter from Tory MPs a fortnight ago that argued for regulation of the press to be put on a statutory footing for the first time.

Leveson to report

It comes at a critical time – on Thursday Lord Justice Leveson delivers his report into the culture, practice and ethics of the British newspaper industry.

Yesterday Downing Street denied a report that Mr Cameron had already decided to rule out full state regulation of the press. Aides said the prime minister was keeping an “open mind” and would wait until he had read the full report. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012