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Alex Salmond calls on publishers to accept UK government's Royal Charter on press regulation

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has called on the press industry to agree to the Royal Charter's proposal of a recognition panel on self regulation and said there's no reason the structure can't continue in an independent Scotland.

Conference: Alex Salmond

Addressing the inaugural Scottish Newspaper Society conference, Salmond said the UK government's Royal Charter proposal had been unanimously passed by the Scottish parliament 12 months ago, although he welcomed the "progress" of the last 18 months and said the industry's Independent Press standards organisation would go a "long way" to meeting the recommendations set out in the Leveson Report.

"The new editor's code handbook is part of a much wider series of efforts to improve self regulation, and my view is that the new independent press standards organisation will actually go a long way to meeting Lord Justice Leveson's proposals for self regulation," the First Minister said.

But he added: "It is important to set out the position of the Scottish parliament and remind you of the context.

"We're working as a government within a mandate set by a motion that was passed unanimously in the Scottish parliament 12 months ago. The point about unanimity is important because it's not just an SNP position, the mandate was agreed by all party leaders.

"That mandate required the Scottish government to work with the UK government to agree the yet of the Royal Charter, to implement the Leveson's recommendations in a way that was workable in Scotland and that is what we did."

While Salmond welcomed efforts from the Scottish Newspaper Society to explore how the new regulator could be scrutinised by the Scottish parliament, he said: "A key part of Leveson's recommendations was to have an independent recognition panel to assess whether the charter's requirements had been met.

"The current proposals are different to agreeing to a recognition panel and in my view not as satisfactory.

"Scottish government's position is clear, we strongly welcome the significant progress that has been made in the last year, but we believe that the press should agree to that independent recognition panel and should provide arbitration services.

"These two remaining steps would be good for public confidence in the press and good for the press itself and therefore we hope that further progress can be made."

However, before Salmond addressed the conference, a speech from Lord Black - chair of PresBof and a key figure behind Ipso - confirmed that the new regulator would extend to Scotland, although he admitted he was unsure how the regulator would be structured should Scotland vote for independence.

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