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October 27, 2013updated 28 Oct 2013 4:49pm

Alexander: No further compromise, Royal Charter will go to Privy Council this week

By Darren Boyle

A senior Government minister has warned the press that no further compromise is possible on its planned Royal Charter.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told this morning’s Andrew Marr show on BBC 1 that significant changes had already been made to the proposed scheme.

He said the Government’s plan will go to the Privy Council on Wednesday as planned.

He confirmed the Government was prepared to push ahead with its own scheme despite the opposition of Presbof and its threatened legal challenge.

Several newspaper publishers announced their plan to seek a judicial review of the Government’s Royal Charter plan on Thursday evening.

Sources close to Culture Secretary Maria Miller indicated that some compromise may be possible, however Alexander’s hard line on the Andrew Marr show appears to rule that out.

He said: "We have amended the cross-party charter in the light of some of the things we have learnt from our consideration of the press's charter. That will go to the Privy Council later this month.

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"Once that charter is sealed, then I hope very much that, over time and on reflection, the media sector will decide that it wants to play its part in making sure that many of the problems that we have seen in the media sector over many years aren't able to happen again."

Taking a hard line on possible compromise, he said: "We are now going to take the charter to the Privy Council, have that charter agreed and go forward from there."

Later, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman confirmed that if a single publisher signs on with the Government-backed regulator then the system of incentives and disincentives would begin immediately.

Any newspapers who remain outside the Government scheme face heavy legal bills in any subsequent libel trials. Newspapers will be forced to pay costs even if they successfully defend the claim.

"If they don't (sign up) I am absolutely certain that some publisher or another will come forward, establish a regulator which has got a complaints system which is then recognised and sort of authorised and then that switches on a system of incentives and disincentives and that's the framework that was suggested by Leveson.

 "What it does is it switches on the incentives and disincentives because at that point any newspaper could join the regulator.

"The incentives are that actually you could have arbitration of complaints against your newspaper which is cheaper and quicker than actually having the civil courts.

"The disincentives are that actually if you don't sign up to the regulator and somebody's got a complaint that then ends up in court because it's a libel or a breach of privacy because it's a breach of civil law then you won't be able to claim your costs against the other side."

 

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