MPs warn PM over Leveson report

Hillingdon Times: David Cameron faces fresh demands to reject statutory regulation of newspapers David Cameron faces fresh demands to reject statutory regulation of newspapers

David Cameron faces fresh demands to reject statutory regulation of newspapers as he prepares to take delivery of the Leveson report.

More than 80 politicians from all three main parties have signed a letter warning the Prime Minister that accepting such a recommendation would undermine free speech.

The intervention highlights the deep divisions on the key issue, after a group of 42 Tory MPs urged tough new laws to keep newspapers in check.

Mr Cameron will receive his copy of Lord Justice Leveson's conclusions at lunchtime, a day ahead of the official publication.

The premier, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have all indicated they will support the judge's recommendations as long as they are "proportionate". But, with his own MPs and Cabinet badly split, there is speculation that Mr Cameron could offer Parliament a free vote.

The letter to the Daily Telegraph and Guardian was organised by Labour former home secretary David Blunkett and Tory backbencher Conor Burns.

Conservatives make up the overwhelming majority of the signatories, including "big beasts" Liam Fox and David Davis, as well as media select committee chairman John Whittingdale and 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady. Labour's Kate Hoey and Frank Field, and Lib Dem John Hemming also backed the missive.

"As parliamentarians, we believe in free speech and are opposed to the imposition of any form of statutory control even if it is dressed up as underpinning," they argued.

Meanwhile, actor Hugh Grant, who campaigns for stricter press regulation, told BBC Breakfast: "No-one is arguing for statutory regulation that I have ever heard of. They are arguing for independent regulation underpinned by statute, which is a very, very different beast.

"What people are campaigning for is an end to newspapers being able to regulate themselves, marking their own homework, because that is what has resulted in the kind of abuses of people like the Dowlers, the McCanns, Christopher Jefferies. That is effectively what has resulted in the bribing of the police and over-influence on government."

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