UK political parties agree new press guidelines

LONDON, (Reuters) – Britain’s three main political parties reached agreement yesterday on a new set of rules to govern the country’s newspapers following months of haggling over how the often raucous industry should be policed.

Prime Minister David Cameron had struggled to find a compromise between those demanding tougher regulation of newspapers, and angry newspaper barons and senior colleagues who argued that the freedom of the press was in jeopardy.

Last November, senior judge Brian Leveson concluded a year-long public inquiry into press ethics with his 1,987-page report denouncing certain newspaper tactics and calling for an industry watchdog, enshrined in law, to regulate journalists’ behaviour. The government said politicians from the three main parties had now agreed a system to be enshrined under a Royal Charter which provided a code of practice to editors, with an arbitration system to deal with complaints.

The proposal announced yesterday had been amended in response to press objections, to include measures such as requiring those wishing to complain to pay a small fee and for editors to play a greater role on the committee establishing the rules governing press behaviour.

The so-called Industry Steering group which speaks on behalf of the newspapers said they would study the proposals but said they remained concerned about the involvement of politicians in regulating the press.

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