Media reform campaigners today backed a cross-party deal on industry regulation in the UK, claiming it would protect press freedom as well as victims of newspaper intrusion.
Hacked Off said it believes the regulator will be “genuinely independent” under today’s agreement.
Director Brian Cathcart said the measures included an essential statute to prevent ministers interfering in the system at a later stage.
At a press conference in central London, he said: “The royal charter that they have accepted will introduce a new system that will protect the freedom of the press and, at the same time, protect the public from the kinds of abuses that made the Leveson inquiry necessary.”
Mr Cathcart said the new watchdog would have the power to “mount effective investigations when things go wrong” and impose “meaningful sanctions”.
“We believe a charter is second best but we believe that this charter, endorsed by the three leading parties today, can effectively deliver his (Leveson’s) proposals on self-regulation.”
He added: “The charter will be protected by a minimal clause of statute. This protection is needed because bodies with royal charters are normally closely overseen by Privy Council. That is a committee of politicians. In other words, without that clause of statute to set aside the committee of politicians, ministers would be free to meddle with the new self-regulation system so the statute is essential.”
Mr Cathcart praised the three major Westminster parties for acting “despite the scaremongering of powerful newspaper groups”.
He added: “Some newspapers have grossly misrepresented the Leveson report and continue to do so.”