Leveson report: Labour 'unconvinced' over Royal Charter for watchdog

Newspaper stand Cross-party talks on the Leveson recommendations are due to resume next week

Labour is currently "unconvinced" about the idea of a Royal Charter to create a new, independent press watchdog, a senior party source has told the BBC.

It follows a Daily Telegraph report that David Cameron is considering the mechanism, which would protect the watchdog from change by publishers.

The PM wants no new press laws, but No 10 said he was "looking at options".

Labour, which supports a law setting up a regulator, said it was a not a good idea to bypass Parliament in this way.

The source told the BBC that while Labour would "look at" the idea, it was not currently convinced that using the Privy Council to establish a Royal Charter was a good idea.

Royal Charters are formal documents that have been used to establish and lay out the terms of organisations including the BBC and Bank of England.

They cannot be changed without government approval, so it is thought could safeguard a new press watchdog from unilateral changes to its terms by the press.

The prime minister's official spokesman said ministers wanted to achieve a properly independent regulator that commanded the confidence of the public.

'Best placed'

A report on press standards by Lord Justice Leveson, produced after hearings lasting eight months, last week recommended an independent self-regulatory watchdog for the press that would be backed by legislation.

The plan has the support of the Liberal Democrats as well as Labour.

A spokesman for the Hacked Off campaign group said the government "appears to be toying with political interference in the regulation of the press".

He argued: "The person best placed to draw up a blueprint for press regulation is Lord Justice Leveson.

"He concluded that guaranteed independence, long-term stability and effectiveness, all of which the public needs, could not be achieved without a validation body backed by law for the new self-regulator."

National newspaper editors have met to draw up a plan for self-regulation that they hope will see off demands for statutory underpinning.

In a statement on Thursday, they said: "The editors of all national newspapers met yesterday and unanimously agreed to start putting in place the broad proposals - save the statutory underpinning - for the independent self-regulatory system laid out by Lord Justice Leveson."

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