Lichfield’s MP has called for careful consideration of the Leveson Inquiry recommendations before any steps are taken to put elements of press regulation into law.
The report made a number of recommendations about the future regulation of the press – including a suggestion that legislation should be introduced.
Although Prime Minister David Cameron has endorsed many of the Leveson findings, he has so far stopped short of backing a new law to help manage the media.
His stance has been backed by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant who says serious consideration would need to be given to any such move.
“I have been appalled by the actions of some newspapers and a few journalists over the years,” he said. ” It is not just a recent phenomenon. The press were told they were “drinking at the last chance saloon” back in 1989 after they had behaved badly.
“What is clear is that the status quo is not an option. The press cannot be allowed to continue as they are. However, the question is how tightly a free press in a democratic nation should be regulated and whether a legal framework is needed to do it at all. I don’t believe we should rush into a quick decision on this.
“I have some serious concerns and misgivings on this recommendation [for legislation]. The issue of principle is that for the first time we would have written elements of press regulation into the law of the land.
“We should be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press. We should think very carefully before crossing this line though it may still be necessary.
“There may be alternative options of putting in place incentives, providing reassurance to the public and ensuring the Leveson principles are put in place and these options must be explored.
“I am against making any snap judgement one way or another on the Leveson Report until all avenues have been explored. If, however, after this process the only alternative is to introduce a legal framework, then I will support this.”
Mr Fabricant also warned that any move to add such regulation could be a lengthy process.
He explained: “On the grounds of practicality, however simple the intention, the legislation required to underpin the regulatory body would be more complicated.
“The danger is that this would create a vehicle for politicians whether today or some time in the future to impose regulation and obligations on the press, something that Lord Justice Leveson himself wishes to avoid.”