LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron demanded newspaper editors come up with an effective system of self-regulation urgently today following a damning inquiry into the reporting practices of Britain’s scandal-hungry press.
Last week a judge who oversaw the year-long inquiry triggered by a phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire called for a new legislation-backed watchdog to police the sometimes “outrageous” behaviour of the press.
That infuriated newspaper bosses who have lobbied frantically against the recommendation, saying any involvement of the law in press regulation would amount to state control and an attack on Britain’s centuries-old traditions of free speech.
Cameron is himself against statutory regulation, but, keen to be seen as taking a tough stance on the excesses of Britain’s notoriously aggressive newspapers, he said industry bosses had to act fast to get their house in order.
“They’ve got to do it in a way that absolutely meets the requirements of Lord Justice Leveson’s report,” Cameron said in televised remarks after a meeting with the editors.
Independent regulatory system
“That means million pound fines, proper investigation of complaints, prominent apologies, and a tough independent regulatory system. And they know, because I told them, the clock is ticking for this to be sorted out.”
In his report last week, Lord Justice Brian Leveson said statutory backing for the news regulator was needed to end a journalistic culture that had at times “wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people”.
Cameron’s opposition to the idea has earned him the condemnation of families of murder victims who have accused the British leader of betrayal, but won praise from right-leaning newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail. (Reuters)