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Cameron says independent watchdog is needed urgently

The British PM met with editors and executives at 10 Downing Street to push them to set up a new independent regulatory body.

Image: (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER David Cameron warned newspaper editors today to set up a fresh watchdog quickly or face new laws after a judge-led inquiry condemned decades of misconduct by the press.

Cameron met the editors and executives at his 10 Downing Street office to push them to follow recommendations in last week’s report by Lord Justice Brian Leveson to set up a new independent regulatory body.

The prime minister has previously said that he opposes Leveson’s call for the regulator to be backed by legislation but he told the newspaper bosses to act soon or face the consequences.

Tough

“I’ve told them that they have to produce a tough, independent regulatory system rapidly, and they’ve got to do it in a way that it absolutely meets the requirement of Lord Justice Leveson’s report,” Cameron said after the meeting.

“That means million-pound fines, proper investigation of complaints, prominent apologies.”

He added: “They know, because I told them, the clock is ticking for this to be sorted out.”

Cameron commissioned the Leveson Inquiry in July 2011, after the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid and has since prompted dozens of arrests.

Press intrusion

He was criticised by victims of press intrusion when he warned after the publication of Leveson’s report that introducing legislation to underpin the new regulator could endanger the freedom of the press.

Editors said they wanted to work with the government to find a solution.

“I think there’s quite a lot of both urgency and determination,” James Harding, editor of Murdoch-owned daily The Times, told reporters.

Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian which helped expose the News of the World scandal, said the meeting was “friendly but firm”.

A group of around 10 campaigners calling for legislation gathered outside the Downing Street gates.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Leveson Report: “Putting a policeman in every newsroom is no sort of answer” >

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