Following days of heated debate, British politicians reached an agreement on press regulation on Monday, March 18, unveiling a new code designed to curb the abuses of the past.
The code follows the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry, which was tasked with cleaning up the British newspaper industry – after it emerged that journalists had hacked thousands of phones.
The UK industry had previously been self regulated by the, now discredited, Press Complaints Commission.
Victims’ groups have been lobbying for the creating of an independent body enshrined in law:
“It will be a regulator, a system of complaints where the regulator has teeth so they can direct apologies if wrong is done, and it’s independent of the press which is so important, because for too long we’ve had a system where the press have been marking their own homework,” said opposition leader Ed Miliband.
Instead of being established through press law, the new body being proposed by politicians would be created through Royal Charter.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said the regulator would protect people but in no way harm the freedom of the press:
We stand here today with a cross-party agreement for a new system of press regulation. It supports our great traditions of investigative journalism and free-speech, it protects the rights of the vulnerable and the innocent. My message to the press is now very clear: We have had the debate, now it is time to get on and make this system work.”
The phone hacking scandal severely tarred the reputation of the British newspaper industry when it first came to light in 2011.
One of the worst offenders, Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News of the World’, closed down after 168 years in print as a result.