Fleet Street’s editors have agreed in unison to implement independent regulation of the press with a compromise aiming to prevent Lord Leveson’s recommendations for statutory intervention.
At a meeting in central London chaired by Times editor James Harding, they signed up to 40 of the 47 measures proposed by Leveson.
These recommendations agreed to include:
- The creation of a new regulator governed by an independent board appointed in an independent way
- Appointments panel to have a substantial majority of independent ‘lay’ members from outside the industry
- Regulator to provide an arbitration service for civil legal claims
- Establish a whistle-blowing hotline
- A conscience clause to appear in journalists’ contracts
It means backing down on their own promises to install a stronger form of self-regulation. As well as operating free of serving editors, the new body would have power to levy fines of up to £1m and oversee a low-cost tribunal system to handle libel and privacy claims.
On top of denouncing legislation, the seven recommendations editors refused included the suggestion that Ofcom, or some other statutory body, should audit the new regulator.
The Telegraph Group’s Lord Black is liaising with politicians over the setting up of a new body. Editors have also agreed to wait for a report by Oliver Letwin, David Camron’s policy-fixer, that aims to outline the process of carrying out Leveson’s principles without resorting to law.