17 January 2012 - 8:41am | posted by | 0 comments

Jeremy Hunt says ‘statutory underpinning’ might be needed for a revived press complaints commission

Jeremy Hunt  says ‘statutory underpinning’ might be needed for a revived press complaints commissionJeremy Hunt says ‘statutory underpinning’ might be needed for a

UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has said "statutory underpinning" may be required to underpin the authority of a revived press complaints commission.

Appearing yesterday before a parliamentary select committee on privacy and injunctions, Hunt appeared to go further than he has before in setting out a regulatory framework for the media which would attract future government support.

The select committee is part of an inquiry set in the wake of the row over super-injunctions, and some of its scrutiny is now covering the ground being examined by the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

The Guardian reports today that Hunt said it should never be a question of any government directly regulating the press or what it chooses to publish, and quotes him as saying: "We would like to continue with a light-touch approach but it does have to command the confidence of the public after a very, very bad period.

"The reason that the prime minister and I have hesitated to say that we want to keep self-regulation is because self-regulation is very often characterised as something which is very similar to the current system and clearly some very significant failings have emerged on that.

"So what we are looking for is the industry to come up with a structure that will have [widespread] confidence and has proper sanction-making powers.

Hunt compared it with the role of the disciplinary committee of the General Medical Council.

Asked about how newspapers might be encouraged to participate, he supported a suggestion made by the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, that only those participating would be legally defined as newspapers and therefore entitled to zero rating for VAT.

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