Limiting reform? Cameron meets newspaper chiefs in No 10

David Cameron is meeting with newspaper chiefs later, as calls for a statutory underpinning of press self-regulation grow in intensity.

The prime minister will be hoping he can persuade the editors and proprietors to agree to implement a form of independent self-regulation which does not require the kind of supporting legislation Leveson concluded is necessary.

It seems likely that some editors will favour the status quo, presenting a headache for Cameron as he seeks to win over Labour leader Ed Miliband and his coalition colleague Nick Clegg.

Other editors may be willing to explore a legally binding contractual membership option to the new regulator, however, which may bypass the need for new legislation altogether.

Lord Hunt, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission who will also attend today's meeting, said 120 publishers representing 2,000 editors were prepared to back Leveson's proposals in full.

Public opinion appears to be hardening in favour of implementing Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations in full. A petition to that effect now has over 130,000 signatures.

Views in parliament appeared to be softening yesterday, however, as a debate on the issue saw key supporters of statutory regulation like David Blunkett adjust their positions.

Tory backbenchers who had backed statutory regulation also indicated they now believed there was no need for legislation.

Culture secretary Maria Miller began yesterday's debate by once again laying out the concerns of Conservatives in the government that Britain's freedom of speech could be undermined by any kind of law on press regulation.

"There are many in the House today on both sides of the chamber who have a deep seated and grave concern that such legislation could have a profound effect on our ability to completely safeguard the freedom of our press in the future," Miller told MPs.

"Who can say what amendments could be made to such a legislative framework in the future? Who can make promises for the politicians and the political parties in years to come?

"The action that we take will have consequences that will be felt for generations to come and we must make sure that whatever action we take, it is not just for now but it's for the coming years as well."

Therese Coffey, one of the more outspoken Conservative MPs on the issue of freedom of speech, tweeted this morning: "Tearoom crisis this morning as no newspapers have been delivered. Fleet St revenge for yesterday's debate?"

Cross-party talks are also set to continue, with both sides now drawing up draft legislation to demonstrate Leveson's proposals are workable – or not.


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