Nick Clegg on Leveson: “I want a free and fair press”

cameron clegg miliband 2Nick 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.

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  • The bit missing for me is stating that the talks will continue to allow a bi-partisan solution to be suggested in opposition to the Tory plan. This could not be accused of putting the coalition at risk as Cameron unilaterally pulled out…

  • why is Cameron drinking tea with Ed Miliband and Ed Balls?

  • Ignore my last comment, on the BBC the quote is much more clear about continuing in a cross party manner..

    “I am determined that we should maintain a cross-party approach and I am very keen to work with [all] MPs to get this important issue right. It is not an issue I believe that should be the subject of party-political points scoring.”

  • Steve Comer 14th Mar '13 - 5:11pm

    This is an opportunity for Liberal Democrats to support meaningful change along Levenson lines. It won’t threaten the coalition as Cameron took his ball away and went home! Lets ensure we build the biggest coalition possible in favour of a proper solution,a self regulatory body backed by legislation.

    So come on Lib Dem MPs, don’t screw up this chance!

  • If we can get decent legislation passed with Labour – where the victim comes first, not some bullying, self interested, editor or owner, backed by law – then happy days all the same.

    I personally don’t know why Cameron is so bothered kowtowing to the villains, when all their dark forces clearly had little or no effect in Eastleigh.

    The world is a different place than it used to be. The times they are a changin’.

  • Richard Harris 15th Mar '13 - 7:48am

    @ Simon Oliver
    …and the Mansion Tax vote only a couple of days ago when they were given the opportunity to vote in support of their own policy.

  • Can anyone who has been following this closely clarify what the party positions are now on the issue of ‘backstop’ regulation for newspapers which decline to participate in the regulation scheme? Lord Leveson leaned towards statutory regulation by OFCOM, though stopped short of actually recommending it. Is that off the agenda now?

  • “The PCC code actually permits newspapers to be partisan.. that to me is a tautology.. how can they be called ‘news’papers when they are permitted to write a version that suits the party bias they support…”

    It really is absolutely breathtaking that anyone who describes himself as a liberal can question whether newspapers should be “permitted” to express political opinions. Truly astonishing.

  • Sad that we are going to give up on free speech so easily.

    The press is on it’s way out but people are planning on applying “press regulation” to the internet, there is no need for these restrictions on free speech.

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