MK Labour spokesman Pakes backs Leveson proposals

Lord Justice Leveson
Lord Justice Leveson

PARTS of the press acted as if it’s own code simply did not exist, according to Labour’s Milton Keynes spokesman Andrew Pakes.

Mr Pakes was speaking after the conclusion of the Leveson Inquiry yesterday.

Lord Justice Leveson recommended ‘independent regulation of the press organised by the press, with a statutory verification process to sure that the required levels of independence and effectiveness are met’.

But shortly afterwards Prime Minister David Cameron said he had practical concerns about “crossing the Rubicon” and legislating to control the press.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, meanwhile, insisted Parliament should “put its faith” in all Leveson’s recommendations.

The inquiry into press ethics had been called in the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal.

Mr Pakes said the press must not be allowed to continuing abusing its own power.

“The Leveson report has been clear that the press needs to clean up its act,” he said.

“David Cameron has already rejected the central recommendation for a new press watchdog underpinned in law. We need a free press can expose abuses of power but not abuse its own power.

“Labour and the Lib Dems are united that that this can work. Even some Tories back the report. Leveson found that changing the law is the only way to guarantee a system of self-regulation which seeks to cover all of the press.

“Our two MPs need to come clean about whether they support an effective watchdog or not. There is no wriggle room on this.”

Yesterday, Milton Keynes MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart gave their reaction to the report.

Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North, said: “While the status quo was clearly not going to be acceptable, the guiding principle of the Leveson report appears to be independent self regulation of the press which coupled with greater transparency seems very sensible.

“The devil is always in the detail but I hope the press, politicians and public can work together to make these recommendations a reality.”

His Milton Keynes South counterpart, MP Iain Stewart, said: “I very much welcome Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals for a new, much stronger regulation of the Press. I particularly want to see a system where newspapers are required to publish a prominent apology and correction when they publish a false or misleading story.

“I also welcome the fact that there will be cross-party talks on how this new system can be quickly implemented. If it is necessary to underpin this new system by law to make it effective, then I do not oppose that. However, we must think very carefully before that line is crossed. A free press is one of the hallmarks of our liberty.

“I call on the press to step up to the plate so that the new regulatory system is in place quickly.”