Nick Clegg has emailed Lib Dem members today to set out his view on David Cameron’s decision to pull the plug on cross-party talks seeking to find an agreed way forward on the Leveson Report’s recommendations for self-regulation of the press underpinned by statute:
As you may have seen this morning the Prime Minister has decided to call off the cross-party talks on implementing the Leveson proposals on press regulation.
Throughout the talks I have sought to defend a free press while making sure ordinary people can be protected from unwarranted harassment and bullying by powerful interests in the press.
I was surprised and disappointed when David Cameron told Ed Miliband and myself that he felt there was no chance of us reaching an agreement. The talks had appeared to be progressing well with a genuine desire to come to a solution that would provide a robust, independent press regulator.
There are some issues – such as allowing the press to veto who sits on the independent regulator and whether the regulator should be able to direct newspaper apologies – where I disagreed with the Prime Minister, but these appeared to be issues that could be worked through.
Lord Justice Leveson went to enormous lengths to deliver a considered verdict on the way independent self-regulation of the press should work in the future and then rightly told politicians that the ball was in our court.
I remain determined to meet his challenge and find a workable solution with like-minded members of all parties.
As I said in my statement to the House when the Leveson Report was published:
“We need to get on with this without delay. We owe it to the victims of these scandals, who have already waited too long for us to do the right thing. Too long for an independent press watchdog in which they can put their trust. I am determined we do not make them wait any more.”
That remains my view and it remains what I intend to help deliver.