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UK Government Divided after Leveson Delivers Report on Press Freedom

By Damian Robin
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 30, 2012 Last Updated: December 10, 2012
Related articles: United Kingdom » National
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The Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is at loggerheads with his Liberal Democrat Deputy Nick Clegg over the legal “underpinning” of a press watchdog proposed by Lord Justice Leverson in his report on journalistic freedom.

“The press needs to establish a new regulatory body which is truly independent of industry leaders and of Government and politicians,” Lord Leveson read from his statement on November 29th.

Remarking on his “Report into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press,” he said, “Guaranteed independence, long-term stability, and genuine benefits for the industry, cannot be realised without legislation.”

Mr Cameron saw this as an attack on the historic freedom of the press. He previously said he would implement the inquiry findings as long as they were not “bonkers”.

Now he says Leveson’s proposals “would cross the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land. We should, I believe, be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press.”

Unusually for statements given to Parliament by the government, Nick Clegg responded separately to the Prime Minister, saying he wanted, “a tougher system of self-regulation supported by new independent checks recognized in law.”

This is in line with many victims of phone hacking who see press self-regulation having failed and call for stronger curbs on the press.

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