PCC claim new press regulator could be in force on 1 July
Lord Hunt of Wirral, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, has said that the newspaper industry may now establish a new regulator as early as 1 July - without waiting for politicians to reach agreement on how to ensure it complies with the Leveson report’s findings.
Speaking to The Times Hunt said that a draft contract has already been drawn up by representatives of Britain’s biggest papers which would see them agree to join a new regulator with investigatory powers and the ability to levy fines of up to £1m.
Crucially it would likely launch without the arbitration service proposed by Leveson, which would have been ‘free for the complainant to use’, potentially opening the floodgates to a flood of spurious claims.
Hunt said: “No one should stop an industry that is determined to set up a proper independent regulatory body from doing so because of some lengthy discussion about the right way in which the arbitral process should be dealt with.
“The industry accepts verification but not oversight, there is a difference. On verification, they accept that the independence of the body should be subject to some form of scrutiny. The difficulty now is that no one can work out exactly how that will happen.
“The industry is awaiting the political parties coming forward with an agreed solution [on verification].”
Agreement was reached last Thursday at a meeting of editors and publishers to replace the PCC with a new regulator.