Leveson To Publish Report Into Press Ethics

Lord Justice Leveson's long-awaited report into press standards will be published later amid fears its recommendations could throw the Government into turmoil.

David Cameron will respond to the recommendations in the Commons this afternoon, but in an extraordinary move his deputy Nick Clegg is preparing to make his own statement.

Sky sources say this is not indicative of a major coalition split and aides stress there are areas of agreement, but it will fuel concern about deep divisions within the Government.

Lord Justice Leveson's 2,000-page document will be unveiled at 1.30pm, with the judge widely expected to suggest a new regulator for newspapers underpinned by law.

His inquiry was set up by the Prime Minister last July after it emerged the News Of The World hired a private detective to hack murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone.

Set to cost around £6m overall, it heard months of evidence from celebrities, media figures, politicians and the police.

:: READ MORE - Click here for our Leveson live blog

:: WATCH - Live coverage on Sky News from 1.15pm

Mr Cameron has pledged to seek cross-party consensus on a new regulatory system but faces an uphill struggle to overcome deep divisions in the coalition and among his own MPs.

Mr Clegg is reportedly ready to back the creation of a statutory regulator, a move that would be opposed by many Tories, and Mr Cameron is thought to be resisting.

The pair have been poring over the report trying to agree a joint approach since half-a-dozen advance copies were delivered to Downing Street.

Asked about press regulation in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said: "This Government set up Leveson because of unacceptable practices in parts of the media and because of a failed regulatory system.

"I think we should try and work across party lines on this issue, it is right to meet with other party leaders about this issue and I will do so.

"What matters most I believe is that we end up with an independent regulatory system that can deliver and in which the public have confidence."

Labour leader Ed Miliband welcomed Mr Cameron's commitment and insisted he wanted "real change".

"I hope we can work on an all-party basis. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for real change and I hope that this House can make it happen," he told MPs.

All three main party leaders have indicated they will support the report's recommendations as long as they are "proportionate".

But there is speculation Mr Cameron could offer Parliament a free vote rather than try to force through measures and suffer a damaging rebellion.

Dozens of Tory MPs signed an open letter warning against statutory regulation this week - shortly after 42 of their colleagues called for tougher laws to curb newspapers' excesses.

The latest group included "big beasts" Liam Fox and David Davis, media select committee chairman John Whittingdale and 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady.

Campaign group Hacked Off, which represents victims of press intrusion, has welcomed the Government's commitment to seek cross-party agreement and urged leaders to avoid unnecessary delay.

The Spectator, the country's oldest political magazine, has insisted it would refuse to join any regulatory system enforced by the Government.

News International's chief executive Tom Mockridge has backed calls for a "tough" new press watchdog but warned that state-backed regulation would put too much power in politicians' hands.

A new opinion poll has found the majority of voters favour statutory regulation, with 51% for, 20% against and 29% unsure.

The ComRes survey for ITV News At Ten, which interviewed 2,038 adults online from November 23-25, found 48% believed the current system was not tough enough, while 28% thought it about right.

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