Until The Eastern Daily Press started investigating serious failings at this region’s ambulance service, little was known about a crisis that, ultimately, poses a threat to lives.

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Press Regulator deal agreed By Press Association Political Staff

A deal has been done to create a tough new press regulator, Harriet Harman said today.

The shadow culture secretary said a charter would be published this morning and would be put to MPs this afternoon.

Peers will then be asked to agree to a “small piece of legislation” which would effectively prevent the charter being watered down.

Ms Harman said the legislation to go before peers specifically would not mention press regulation.

She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “We have to publish the charter this morning, we have to this afternoon put it before the House of Commons.

“In the House of Lords I hope they are going to agree to a bit of law that says this charter can’t be tampered with by ministers.

“I hope there won’t be a vote in the House of Lords because I hope it will be agreed.

“There’s an amendment going forward into the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which says that where a charter says in that charter it can’t be dissolved or amended without a two-thirds majority in both Houses then that should have the force of law.”

She added: “It specifically won’t mention this charter because the idea is that we want to have that effect without it actually mentioning press regulation in law.”

No press releases had been forthcoming, no special briefings given. Our MPs were largely unaware of the scale of difficulties – that 999 vehicles have not been reaching stricken patients in the time they should. This issue is a major one in a largely rural area – time to scene is vital in accidents, in stroke and heart cases and in many other medical emergencies. Doggedly, we have uncovered a dreadful situation and we have attended one harrowing inquest when the ambulance service’s response and actions at roadside were called in to question. Today, in London, MPs will vote to underpin proposals made by Lord Leveson in his inquiry into Press standards by imposing statute.

A law which, many editors and commentators believe, is the first link of chain aimed at shackling and suffocating both Britain’s national and regional Press.

Today, editors and media commentators up and down the country will urge rejection of this draconian move – whilst welcoming and supporting all the good in these Press reform proposals.

Never again phone hacking by sections of the tabloid press and other despicable actions which, in any case, are covered by civil and criminal law.

But never, ever, a day when honourable journalists can’t investigate on behalf of ordinary folk – often against the mighty – in cases which affect villages, towns and cities up and down Britain.

Just imagine a day when another government, at another time, decided that NHS reforms shouldn’t be scrutinised at all.

Or that papers like the EDP shouldn’t be able to investigate our 999 service. Or hugely controversial proposals affecting mental health services here.

Or that investigations into MPs expenses were out of bounds?

Today we’re hoping all the good of Leveson will be enshrined in a proposed Royal Charter – and that our country’s newly-reformed Press should be given the chance to show it has changed course for good.

Today’s events will be played out at Westminster but the ramifications of them could well be felt from Yarmouth to Wisbech, Blakeney to Buckenham, and Norwich to Lowestoft.

We’ll tell you how our MPs voted –we’re so glad we can.

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Culture secretary Maria Miller was last night hoping a cross-party deal on press regulation could still be struck ahead of a crunch Commons vote.

MPs are due to decide today on the shape of a new watchdog system to meet the demands of the Leveson Report into phone-hacking and other abuses.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have joined forces to propose a regulator set up by royal charter and underpinned by legislation.

The Conservatives also propose a royal charter but Mrs Miller said any move to back it in statute could have a “chilling effect” on free speech.

But with prime minister David Cameron facing likely defeat in the Commons after pulling the plug on cross-party talks, there were signs there could yet be compromise.

“I hope that the discussions that we have over the next 24 hours can really make sure that we can come together and have a real solution here,” Mrs Miller said.

“We can have tough self-regulation of the press with million pound fines, prominent apologies, without having the potentially chilling effect that statutory underpinning would bring.”

She spoke after chancellor George Osborne also indicated a desire for agreement, saying: “There is still an opportunity for us to get together and get a press law that works.”

Political disagreement over the solution was a recipe for regulation that would not last or become “deeply-rooted in our culture”, he said.

Mr Cameron – who has said he will stand by the vote – has said he did not consider the Lib/Lab proposed statutory underpinning “a big issue of principle”.

Labour said it had not had any approach for fresh talks, however, and would remain “resolute” in pushing for tough controls today to protect victims of press intrusion.

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said the party had “always said we would like to reach agreement” which could be brought to the Commons as a united position.

“There are just a few issues that remain between us, but they are quite important ones,” she said.

With up to 20 Tories reportedly ready to back the Lib/Lab pact, allies of Mr Cameron accept he will be hard-pressed to win the Commons vote despite intense efforts to shore up support.

Tory former cabinet minister Lord Fowler encouraged the party’s MPs to rebel as the Lib/Lab plan “comes closest to implementing Lord Justice Leveson’s careful and objective report”.

Mr Cameron insists he is acting as “a friend of the victims” of phone hacking, but one of them, author JK Rowling, said they had been “hung out to dry” by the prime minister.

“I am merely one among many turning their eyes towards Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and hoping they have the courage to do what Cameron promised, but which he failed to deliver,” she said.

Mr Miliband urged MPs to do their “duty” by her and others such as the parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and disappeared Madeleine McCann.

“We are at this moment which is a sort of crossroads: do we change or is it more of the same? We need to choose the right course, and I think it is a test of politics,” he said.

Actor Hugh Grant, who fronts the Hacked Off campaign, said the royal charter plan was not “ideal” but said victims supported it and urged Tory MPs to defy Mr Cameron.

“MPs promised to do right by them and they have that chance on Monday,” he said.

20 comments

  • Sorry to say I find this editorial distasteful in the extreme. Happily the EDP is NOT a national newspaper and the editor does not run a cheque-book journalism bunch of thugs like some of the natiuonal media. But for him to abandon his own readers against the might of the Murdoch and other empires is a dereliction of the duty any local editor is expected to hold. Leveson recommended statute backed regulation (which Ms Miller lied about yesterday) and he did it because this was the last-chance saloon. Time and again the nettle of press regulation has not been grasped and the time had come. It is not even the ordinary media that are the risk - technology makes it possible for unqualified oafs blogging to destroy lives. The time for legiuslation was now. And it would not have had the slightest effect on campaign like those referred to by the editor of the EDP who should be ashamed for that blatant exaggeration. Shame on you.

    Report this comment

    Richard Woods

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • So it was phone hacking that will eventually bring down our great free press. Simply pressing 4 numbers in sequence to reveal private messages on other people's phones. The real story was the incestuous relationships between the newspapers, the police, and those in power. It is true that papers have to take calculated risks when putting together a news story, and sometimes they get it wrong, but are we now in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

  • Ha ha. That headline is an April fools joke. Isnt it ?. You dont need the law when the EDP is quite capable of silencing critics of their news stories, and favorite quangosand MP's, by not printing their blogs. Shackling the bloggers, but saying to the PM "do not shackle us". Pot, Kettle, Black springs to mind.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • Oh dear Mr Pickover I dont think that was the comment thread you were expecting! Here's a nice comment though. Thank you so much for leaving the ridiculous article about Leader Borat saying there will be no more incinerators in Norfolk (about as believable as the moon being made of cheese) It has given all the non Tory candidates a chance to screenshot it to use in their literature alongside the actual facts from the officers of the Council who Borat appears not to liaise with before flying into print, oh sorry I mean "mysteriously a leaked email appeared out of nowhere"

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

  • Mr Pickover and his Archant boss this morning should stop kidding themselves the regional press is clean - where else do the hacks in the Street of shame come from then? True the EDP does not probably use self-styled private detectives to do the dirty work but they would if they could afford it and their sales were big enough to justify the risk. Leveson was the last chance saloon. Like all hacks (in my case a long time ago but I still feel mea culpa) we also drank our fill. Time to pay the piper Pickover.

    Report this comment

    Richard Woods

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

  • BG if the press were to be controlled by statue let's hope it's Nelson!

    Report this comment

    Thoreauwasright

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • "V" you are spot on. Anything EDP does not like in a posted comment and it never appears. How come only some stories give us the option to post comments on?

    Report this comment

    ggj666

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • V is spot-on. Only this afternoon bloggers who pointed out inaccuracies in another news story have had all comments deleted and the comment facility removed from the item completely. Is this is 'self regulation'?

    Report this comment

    Kenny Bunkport

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • I am nothing to do with the press in anyway but, whilst those who break the law should be prosecuted, what Leveson and 'hacked off' want is a serious attack on the freedom of the press. Yes some things have been wrong, seriously so, but without the press would we have known about the MP's expenses? Stafford hospital? Murphy's antics? And so many other things too. Hacked off is a hypocritical group who want all the good publicity but none of the bad. Whistleblowers are a good thing and that means a free press is important to all of us. Prosecute vigorously all those who break the law but the press should be free to report HONESTLY.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • 'Why we must not shackle the press'. Well, why shackle the commenter's here, why disallow comments on the incinerator story which initially had a comment box below it? Levinson was reasonable and nothing is written in stone, Mr. Pickover can be rest assured that those wronged will get their redress, sloppy and lazy journalism behind people's back, secretly spying on them, or setting people up in stings, that is not investigative but desperate. Whether this will stop phone hacking is another question. Now what about the comments on that sinking incinerator?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • The EDP is the inhouse magazine of the County Council. Why else when the most serious of inaccuracies were pointed out to them they took off the poster's remark and everyone elses for that matter and left the highly inaccurate yet flattering to the Council's leader article. This should be the subject of a complaint about the conduct of the Leaderene to the Council and a complaint to whoever is going to be in charge of receiving complaints about newspapers who dont behave themselves. In any event this story will be all around Norfolk before tomorrow morning. There are such things as email and Facebook.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • OMG, please Mr P, spare us from this hypocrisy. How on earth would a proper system of regulation (unlike self-regulation, something the press has shown itself to be thoroughly incapable of operating) possibly be a barrier to investigating NHS malpractice? This heartfelt plea to win over the chattering classes does not stand up to rational analysis. And as for the despicable Cameleon, who promised to do right by those whose lives have been ruined by an out-of-control media, we should expect nothing less than an about turn in the direction of RM's posterior.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • From Leveson to today's so-called Rubicon political agreement on press regulation we have not really crossed the river as yet in the UK to one where the press will take a great deal of notice. Given a few years down the road and things will be back as they were. And the fines of up to £1 million will do little and where for this levy to have any credence it would have to be at least five times this amount. The reason, corporates take into account fines in their risk analysis and add this to the price of their products. The press are no different. Indeed when Glaxo forfeited (paid an unofficial fine to the US government) of over $3 billion last year because of fraudulently selling life threatening inappropriate drugs to the public worldwide were they bothered. Not one bit for they had sold over $27 billion of the drugs concerned. As drug companies have a mark-up of at least 50%, they made at least $13.5 billion in profits. Take the $3 billion fine from the $13.5 billion profit and you are still left with a hefty $10 billion profit. Therefore it is a no brainer for corporates and they will take risks time and time again in the acquisition of vast profits. The press are no different and that is why today's political agreement will do nothing in the long-term to change the status quo. Dr David Hill World Innovation Foundation

    Report this comment

    david hill

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • As all the comments have been 'pulled' on the story about Mr. Bor.rett insisting "King's Lynn or nowhere" for the incinerator, may I ask here why in the Inquiry programme is there a man speaking on 26th March about "Planning, Need and Alternative Sites"? If there are no alternative sites, why waste time and money speculating? Foot and Mouth Mr. B!

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

  • Ah yes BG. Imagine having a Prime Minister who listened to those affected by illegal activity - such as blagging or phone hacking - before making a decision. Who'd want that when we could have one in the back pocket of Rupert Murdoch, and spend his past times riding the horses of newspaper editors.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • Well if it means EDP gives less favourable coverage to the coalition perhaps it's a win win.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • This debacle has shown us how politics are done nowadays. Ed Miliband and Cleggie were really scared of upsetting “Hacked Off,” and invited members of this group to sit in on their tawdry meeting and dictate its outcome. Harriet Harman was rather disingenuous this morning when said Hacked Off were prepared to go along with the all party agreement. What she failed to tell anyone is that Hacked Off were in on the talks and were calling the tune. Ed not only dances to the tune of his union paymasters but to third rate celebrities and compo solicitors as well. Incredible, can you imagine Ed and Cleggie getting together and forming a future Coalition. The mind boggles. But more importantly can you imagine if Parliament had gone ahead and decided to controlthe press by statue what fun dictators would have in the rest of the world at our expense. We couldn`t lecture anyone in future about Human Rights and State control of the media.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, March 18, 2013

  • My last post on this 'free press' thread has been 'shackled' - what fun.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

  • May I just agree with Electra, Mr. Borrett seems to distance himself from Norfolk's waste plan, which clearly states that there are two or three more EFW plants in Norfolk. Maybe Mr. Borrett will ask his electorate during the forthcoming election whether they would like these two incinerators, should he get this jobs burner agreed by inspector Hill, why would he want to omit all these employment opportunities?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

  • What makes journalists think they're above having a law, but spend their days harassing those that think similarly?

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Monday, March 18, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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