Cameron ponders next Leveson move
David Cameron is facing one of the toughest challenges of his premiership as he wrestles with the political fallout triggered by Lord Justice Leveson's proposals to reform the press.
The Prime Minister is on a collision course with his Coalition partners, the Opposition and victims of press intrusion after indicating he will spike recommendations for a muscular new independent regulatory body, backed by legislation.
Lord Justice Leveson condemned the "culture of reckless and outrageous journalism" that dominated sections of the press for decades as he unveiled the findings of his 16-month inquiry. The Appeal Court judge called for a new watchdog with statutory underpinning to be given the power to require prominent apologies and impose fines of as much as £1 million.
Mr Cameron immediately voiced "serious concerns and misgivings" about legislative action, and said the press should be given "a limited period of time" to show it could get its house in order.
But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he believed Leveson's model could be "proportionate and workable" and insisted Parliament should push ahead "without delay".
Labour leader Ed Miliband urged MPs to "have faith" in Leveson and said he would move for a vote in the Commons by the end of January to approve Leveson's proposals in principle, with the aim of getting the new system in place by 2015.
The three party leaders held talks and the negotiations will reconvene "soon". But the prospect of the consensus Mr Cameron says he wants to achieve appeared distant with Labour party sources insisting they will not negotiate on whether the recommendations go ahead only how to implement them.
Lord Justice Leveson's 16-month inquiry was prompted by the disclosure that News of the World journalists hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, and his verdict pulled no punches in condemning the behaviour of elements within the newspaper industry.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller told BBC Breakfast: "The point that we're talking about is how legislation would work in this area. Our concern is that we simply don't need to have that legislation to achieve the end objectives. And in drafting out this piece of legislation, what we are going to be demonstrating is that it wouldn't be a simple two- clause Bill."
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said "a bit of statute" was a price worth paying for an effective new system of regulation and that he believed the press could "live with most of" the Leveson proposals. He told the BBC Radio 4 programme: "I think about 80% of it is right and can be agreed on", adding that it also offered "fantastic carrots" for membership such as a cheaper, more flexible way for the press and public to settle cases as well as "sticks".