Tories predict press reform deal
Madeleine McCann's father Dr Gerry McCann gives his views on the impending publication of the Conservatives proposal for a 'Royal Charter' for press regulation in London yesterday. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire
Conservative plans for a Royal Charter to oversee a new press watchdog in Britain in the wake of the phone hacking scandal will be set out today.
The proposals would create a body that would verify whether a new regulator set up by the industry met the requirements laid out by Lord Justice Leveson after his inquiry into media ethics last year.
It would be independent of MPs and newspapers but would not need to be enshrined in law as recommended by the Leveson report and demanded by press reform campaigners.
Labour and the Lib Dems have also previously backed calls for the new press watchdog system to be backed by legislation.
But the Tories are confident that both parties will support the draft charter.
Campaigners said yesterday that David Cameron had failed to give them assurances that the proposals would be “fully compliant” with Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations.
Directors of the pro-regulation campaign group Hacked Off Brian Cathcart and Evan Harris met Mr Cameron ahead of the publication of the plans.
Mr Cathcart said he had not seen full details of the charter but believed Mr Cameron had “compromised” with the press.
Mr Cathcart said: “He appears to be of the view that the draft charter is a solution and will deliver Leveson. That was his language.
“When we probed we found plenty to worry us.”
Speaking at a Hacked Off conference yesterday, Gerry McCann, who was paid damages by several newspapers over reporting of the case of his missing daughter Madeleine, said: “Leveson without the law is meaningless.”
He said: “The Leveson package, including the legal underpinning, is the minimum acceptable compromise for us, and judging by the polls, for the public at large too.” He added: “When the Prime Minister promised to protect those who have been ‘picked up and thrown to the wolves’ by this process, we hoped for real change.”