Leveson deal 'near', reports suggest

Lord Justice Leveson with his report
Image caption Lord Justice Leveson's report on press regulation was published in November

The three main parties could soon strike a deal on how to implement Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations on regulating the press, reports suggest.

It is understood they have still to agree whether a royal charter needs to be underpinned by legislation - one of the report's main recommendations.

Government sources told the BBC they prefer for the royal charter to be agreed without recourse to legislation.

Labour said there was no agreed time on a meeting.

However, Labour leader Ed Miliband's spokesman told the BBC it would "probably" be on Wednesday.

A Labour source told the BBC: "The will is there and we are very, very keen to have deal."

Lord Justice Leveson's report - which was published in November - called for a new independent watchdog of the press, which he said should be underpinned by legislation.

The 2,000-page report into press ethics found that press behaviour was "outrageous" and "wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people".

BBC chief political correspondent Norman Smith said government sources had suggested if a deal was agreed, the Leveson proposals could be in force by this autumn or even sooner.

If, however, legislation is required the measure will be added on to an existing bill and there will be no separate "Leveson" bill.

It is understood there were two meetings on Monday between Culture Secretary Maria Miller, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and Lib Dem peer Jim Wallace to pave the way for the leaders' meeting, our correspondent added.

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