PM seeks paper regulation consensus

Hillingdon Times: David Cameron said he would meet other party leaders over the Leveson report David Cameron said he would meet other party leaders over the Leveson report

David Cameron has pledged to seek a cross-party consensus on newspaper regulation as he takes delivery of the Leveson report.

The Prime Minister said he would meet other party leaders to discuss how to respond to the judge's conclusions - due to be published on Thursday.

His comments came amid evidence of a deep Tory split over the prospect of statutory regulation.

Dozens of Conservative MPs have signed a letter warning that accepting such a recommendation would undermine free speech - days after a group of 42 Tory MPs urged tough new laws to keep newspapers in check.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mr Cameron said he wanted to end up with an "independent regulatory system that can deliver".

Mr Cameron added: "One of the key things that the Leveson inquiry is trying to get to the bottom of is how can you have a strong, independent regulatory system so you don't have to wait for the wheels of the criminal justice system or the libel system to work. "

Labour leader Ed Miliband welcomed Mr Cameron's commitment and insisted he wanted "real change", adding: "I hope we can work on an all-party basis. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for real change and I hope that this House can make it happen."

There has been speculation that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is preparing to take a tougher line than Mr Cameron if statutory regulation is floated. But the Premier's spokesman played down the prospect of the Liberal Democrat leader making a separate response to Leveson in the Commons.

Tory MP Philip Davies (Shipley) said statutory regulation of the press was a straight choice, with no third way alternative. He said: "Can I warn you not to be remembered as the Prime Minister who introduced state regulation of the press. A free press is an essential part of a free democracy and would you agree regulation of the press is like pregnancy - just as you're either pregnant or not pregnant, you either have state regulation or you don't."

Mr Cameron replied: "I would agree that a free press is absolutely vital to democracy. We should recognise all the press has done and should continue doing to uncover wrong doing, to stand up to the powerful, this is vitally important. Whatever the changes we make, we want a robust and free press in our country."

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