Lord Justice Leveson calls for legislation to regulate newspapers
Regional and local newspapers make a contribution to their communities that is "truly without parallel", Lord Justice Leveson has said as he spelled out a new system of regulation by statute to tackle the excessive practices of the Press.
In the long-awaited report sparked by the phone hacking scandal, Lord Leveson pronounced the "criticisms of culture, practices and ethics of the press" should not be applied to the local newspaper industry.
"On the contrary they have been much praised," the report states.
The central recommendation of the 2,000 page report is for a new system of independent self-regulation of the newspaper industry to stamp out "outrageous" Press behaviour.
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But, if adopted, the new body would be underpinned by a change in the law to enforce the new independent regime.
The new body, which will be free of serving newspaper editors and MPs and replace the Press Complaints Commission, would have to act on complaints, with the power to demand apologies and fines of up to £1million.
Newspapers would be offered the "incentive" to join by awarding a "kitemark" of quality for those that sign up and arbitration service that spares them from hefty legal costs.
The body, established by the Press, could not stop a newspaper publishing stories.
Of the local Press, the report says: "Their contribution to local life is truly without parallel.
"Although accuracy and similar complaints have been made against local newspapers, the criticisms of culture, practices and ethics of the press that have been raised in this inquiry do not affect them: on the contrary, they have been much praised."