In response to the breakdown of cross-party press regulation discussion, Index CEO Kirsty Hughes today said:
‘The Prime Minister is right not to have made a shoddy compromise with Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, which would have meant statutory underpinning of press regulation. Politicians should not pass laws that specifically control the press if those politicians are to be held to account by a free press.
“The Royal Charter is itself a compromise as it does mean some political involvement – which Index opposes. It is also quite wrong to say – as supporters of the statutory route have – that David Cameron is doing what the press barons want. A tough new independent regulator whether set up by Royal Charter, or preferably by a route with no political involvement at all, is a big step forward compared to the previous system of self-regulation, which doubtless many of the press barons would still prefer.
“Cameron’s decision to put the Royal Charter approach to a vote is a risky one – and Index is concerned to see MPs voting in even this form on press regulation. But Cameron’s decision to go to a vote has clearly been forced by the threat of wrecking amendments being added into several bills, including one that is already threatening the passage of the Defamation Bill, which Leveson himself said should be kept separate from his work.”