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Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw welcomes press regulation deal

By Rob_Sims  |  Posted: March 19, 2013

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw backs new press regulation deal

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A cross-party deal on press regulation will protect the industry as well as victims Exeter's Labour MP has insisted.

Ben Bradshaw, a former journalist, claimed there would be no threat to the free press posed by the new system, which the Prime Minister has acknowledged would involve legislation.

The proposals were agreed after talks into the early hours which headed off almost certain defeat for David Cameron in the House of Commons.

The PM said plans for a royal charter to back a new, tougher press regulator with the power to impose big fines and prominent apologies newspapers delivered on the recommendations of last year's Leveson Report on press standards.

And the agreement was backed by the Hacked Off campaign, which said it believed the new system would produce a "genuinely independent" regulator to offer redress for press abuses.

Despite the deal being reached, the three main parties differed over whether it amounted to bringing in a new law.

In an emergency debate in the Commons, Mr Cameron insisted that the scheme did not "cross the Rubicon" of introducing a press law, which he said would open the door for future governments to suppress free speech.

But he conceded that "two very important but relatively small legislative changes" needed to be made

But Labour leader Ed Miliband maintained there was "statutory underpinning" for the royal charter, while Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg described it as "a royal charter protected by legislation".

Mr Bradshaw said: "I'm delighted Mr Cameron has recognised the need for the new regulator to be independent, have teeth and be underpinned by statute.

"He set up the Leveson Inquiry in the face of public outrage about the way completely innocent people had been treated by some national newspapers.

"It would have been a gross betrayal of those victims if Mr Cameron had not kept his promise and implemented Leveson's recommendations.

"There is no threat to freedom of expression here or to a free press. As a former journalist I would not support it if there were.

"Underpinning the Royal Charter in statute actually protects the press as well as the victims from future meddling by politicians."

During the debate Mr Cameron told Mr Bradshaw that he had "unblocked the logjam" on Leveson by walking away from cross-party talks last week, which he said "were drifting on and on and on".

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