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David Cameron: ‘Less enlightened’ government may impose statutory press regulation

By Darren Boyle

Prime Minister David Cameron has warned newspaper publishers that a future government might force through statutory regulation of the press. 

In an interview with The Spectator, Cameron told editor Fraser Nelson that the proposed IPSO regulator will not satisfy a “less liberal, less enlightened government”. 

Cameron told Nelson: “‘I believe there’s a great opportunity here to put this difficult and painful issue to bed. If the press set up their regulator I hope, in time, they will make that regulator compliant with – will be able to then seek recognition under – the charter recognition body. If that then happens, we’ll have in place a system that I think will settle this issue because we would have achieved what Leveson wanted which is independent self-regulation by the press, but not marking its own homework, having itself checked, and only having the body checked as it were by the charter.”

Cameron warned that a failure by IPSO to seek recognition could cause significant problems in future. 

He said: “Personally I think that is a mistake because you’re missing the opportunity to settle this and you’re risking that some future, less liberal, less enlightened government at the time of the next press crisis will hitch you with some hideous statutory regulation which I prevented.”

Cameron, in a direct message to the newspaper industry said: “I really believe I’ve delivered a system that I think does not cross the Rubicon because we have not legislated – but actually is within the spirit of Leveson which is itself regulation but doesn’t mark its own homework. I think I’ve done my bit. But it’s up to you guys now – and, as I say, I think you might be at risk if you don’t do it. Not from me, but from a less liberal, enlightened government in the future.  Remember, everyone else wanted to legislate."

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