The royal charter passed last week to regulate the press could become redundant, Culture Secretary Maria Miller has indicated in an interview.
Industry leaders have railed against the plans it enshrines to establish a recognition body overseeing a new watchdog and are pushing ahead with the creation of an Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) without formal verification.
Asked if “nothing else needs to happen” if IPSO works, she replied: “Yes. Ultimately yes, there are opportunities for the press to be able to be recognised and I would encourage them to look at that because it does mean that they can get the sort of incentives around costs and also exemplary damages.”
Told that was likely to infuriate press reform campaigners, she said: “I think they need to examine what Lord Justice Leveson actually said. He said very clearly that a sign of success would be to have a system where we could take both the public and the press with us and that’s been at the heart of the way I have approached this.
“[But} I do hope that the press see the charter as an opportunity for them to demonstrate to the people who read their newspapers that they take responsibility very seriously indeed in terms of what they print, the way they print it and when errors and mistakes are made, that they have a system of redress in place.”
Publishers who refuse to sign up to a system underpinned by the charter face exemplary damages in any court action in which they are involved.