UK

Jeremy Hunt: Public want 'independent press regulation'

The public wants a tougher regulatory system for the press that is independent of politicians, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr any new regulatory body "must have the confidence of the public".

Mr Hunt said no-one wanted to see "the state regulating content" but added that a "tougher system" was needed.

The government would "look carefully" at the findings of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, he said.

And he said the public wanted the press to behave "properly".

'Industry-led' regulation

Mr Hunt said: "I think a consensus is emerging that there does need to be some structural changes in the way the press is regulated."

But he continued: "I think people also recognise for example the News of the World exposed the cricket-fixing scandal, the Daily Mail played a very important role in bringing Stephen Lawrence's murderers to justice, so I think people are recognising what we value as well."

He said there was general agreement the state should not regulate the press.

"We have one of the most lively presses in the world, they make life for me and my colleagues extremely uncomfortable and it is part of us keeping us on the straight and narrow.

"So we don't want politicians to be regulating content and I think that is completely agreed.

"But on the other we need to have a tougher system, and I would like it to be an industry-led system, but it needs to be properly independent of newspaper proprietors and newspaper editors and if a newspaper is going to be punished for stepping out of line then it needs to be a credible punishment."

He said any regulatory body had to have credibility with the public.

Evolving industry

Mr Hunt said he hoped the Leveson Inquiry would help "clean up the stuff that shouldn't have been happening".

But also he said he also hoped they could put in "a new modern regulatory structure that helps the newspaper industry evolve and deal with the challenges of the internet and deal with the fact people want to read their news on the go.

"If we can do that then hopefully investors from all over the world will say they want to be part of the story."

Mr Hunt also paid credit to News International for co-operating with police inquiries into phone hacking and alleged corruption, but said the company should have co-operated earlier.

Five Sun journalists and three other people were freed on bail after being questioned as part of Operation Elveden, the investigation into alleged corrupt payments to police officers and public servants.

Labour MP Tom Watson told the BBC's Sunday Politics show he did not believe Rupert Murdoch should hold the licence for Sky television - part of his News International organisation which also includes the Sun.

"He's the boss of the company. He's responsible for corporate governance and therefore he's not a fit and proper person to run a television company under the rules as they stand."

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