Scots panel on Leveson recommendations to report tomorrow

THE Scots’ response to recommendations on Press regulation announced last year by Lord Justice Leveson is to be published tomorrow, early afternoon.

It follows the deliberations of an ‘expert panel’, looking at how Leveson might be implemented in Scotland, which has devolved powers to regulate the Press separately and differently to England and Wales.

It could hardly be more timely, following a decision by Prime Minister, David Cameron, to put to the House of Commons, on Monday, Press regulation proposals that some say falls short of Leveson’s recommendation to have a watchdog created by statutory underpinning. Being proposed, instead, is a Royal Charter.

This morning, it was revealed that talks in Westminster between the Prime Minister and Party leaders had broken down. Speaking to journalists, Cameron said a Royal Charter would create a tough regulatory system while also protecting the freedom of the Press.

Leveson conducted a lengthy inquiry last year into Press standards, set up following allegations of phone hacking by journalists and which led to the closure of the News of the World newspaper by its owners, in July two years ago.

The five-person panel includes the journalist, Ruth Wishart and David Sinclair, a former assistant editor at The Herald, plus a former president of the National Union of Journalists, and now head of communications at Victim Support Scotland.

Chairing the group is  former Solicitor General and Senator of the College of Justice, Lord McCluskey, with the other two places taken up by Peter Watson, senior partner of Levy & McRae and Visiting Professor at the School of Law, University of Strathclyde, and Neil Walker, Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The First Minister joined other party leaders at a meeting with representatives of the Scottish Newspaper Society this afternoon. This meeting formed part of the planned series of engagements with various stakeholders that the all-party group committed to in the wake of the publication of Lord Justice Leveson’s report.

“The meeting gave all of the main party leaders in Scotland the opportunity to listen to the views of the Press in Scotland as the Scottish Parliament prepares to respond to the recommendations made by Leveson.

“The report by the expert group, led by Lord McCluskey, on how the Leveson recommendations could be applied in the Scottish context is expected to be published on Friday and we will continue discussions with other parties on the next steps.”

Earlier today, at First Minister’s Questions (see around the 22nd minute mark in the video) at lunchtime, Salmond responded to a question by the LibDem’s Scottish leader, Willie Rennie , by saying he was “disappointed” on hearing that the talks at Westminster had broken down.

He added then that the work of the ‘expert panel’ was “well advanced”.

Read allmediascotland blogger, Francis Shennan’s blog on the Royal Charter proposal, here.