Prime Minister David Cameron said he did not want "heavy-handed" state regulation of the press as campaign group Hacked Off sent him an open-letter urging him to reject industry proposals for a reformed Press Complaints Commission.
Some sixty alleged "victims" of the press put their names to an open letter to Cameron which was published in The Observer yesterday.
It said that the Lord Black plan from press owners for a reformed PCC with new powers to fine and investigate and more lay members was “an insufficiently clean break from the current PCC and the failings associated with that organisation”.
The letter adds: “We have therefore been alarmed and distressed by the widespread reports in the press (‘The Times’, 31st August 2012), supported by comments made by senior members of your party, that you have already made up your mind and that you were ‘preparing to reject statutory intervention in the regulation of the press even if it is strongly recommended by Lord Justice Leveson’; and that the ‘newspaper industry will be given another chance to improve self-regulation’…
“We are disappointed that you have so far not contradicted these articles, and therefore give the impression that you have, indeed, already decided to reject the recommendations of the Inquiry which you set up, even before they are even submitted. We, the victims, would consider such a rejection to be a betrayal of us and of your previous commitments.”
The Hacked-Off letter urged Cameron to stand by previous assurances that “the test of the future system of press regulation is not whether it suits the politicians or their friends in the press, but rather the public interest – including the need of members of society to be free from illegal and unethical press practices”.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on BBC One yesterday, Cameron was asked whether he would stick to his reported promise to implement Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations, providing they were not "bonkers", Cameron said: "Absolutely."
But he added: "We must wait for what Lord Justice Leveson says. I don't want to try to prejudge it… We have got to wait until he produces his report…
"We don't want heavy-handed state intervention. We have got to have a free press. They have got to be free to uncover wrongdoing, to follow the evidence, to do the job in our democracy that they need to do.
"But on the other hand, it is quite clear people have been abused, people's families and lives have been torn up by press intrusion.
"The status quo is not an option. Let's let him do his work.
"I fully intend and – I think this goes right across the parties – we all want to put in place a sensible regulatory system. We are hoping Lord Justice Leveson is going to crack this problem for us. But we must let him do his work first."
The Hacked Off letter was signed by the following “honorary associates” of the campaign who are all said to be victims of “unlawful or unethical conduct” from some press:
Trevor Akester, Denise Anderson, Sophie Anderton, David Archer, Leslie Ash, Patricia Bernal, Alex Best, James Burdge, Major Mark Cann, Lee Chapman, Charlotte Church, Sheila Coleman, Steve Coogan, Eimear Cook, Tricia Cooklin, Mark Covell, Paul Dadge, Nicola Duffett, Christopher Eccleston, Jennifer Evans, Mary-Ellen Field, Duncan Foster, Sheryl Gascoigne, Lissa Gibbons, Louise Glass, Hugh Grant, Jacqui Hames, Joan Hammell, Charlotte Harris, Simon Hughes, Ian Hurst, Ben Jackson, Christopher Jefferies, Stephen Kelly, Andrew King, Sally King, Adam Lancelot, Jude Law, Anne Lee, Zoe Margolis, Michelle Milburn, Max Mosley, Sid Owen, Brian Paddick, Amanda Ramsay, Father Richard Reardon, Tom Rowland, JK Rowling, Graham Shear, Joan Smith, Nicola Smith, Mark Thomson, Stephen Toze, Prof John Tulloch, Claire Ward, James Watson, Margaret Watson, Patrick Watters, Noel Whelan, Jane Winter, HJK.