James Harding,Editor of the Times, has,in my opinion,consistently shown himself as the editor who best understands how a new independent regulator can help get the press out of the problems it has got itself into.So I attach particular significance to his Opinion piece in the paper this morning which adds an extra element to the proposal which the newspapers have put on the table. He calls it a ‘judicial but not a statutory backstop’. Harding suggests that the Lord Chief Justice should appoint an ‘Oversight Panel’ to ensure ‘no return to the “smoke-filled rooms” of the past’ in press regulation.
In my view this doesn’t solve the other shortcomings in the ‘Hunt-Black’ plan but crucially it puts something new on the table which David Cameron can latch onto and give himself more time to see if the newspapers can come up with something better than their last offer.
So expect another round before Downing Street makes any decisions.
On the face of it, these new proposals may make some sense. However, these should have been proposed by the press before Leveson stopped taking evidence. It smacks of desperation to be coming up with them now.