Leveson: ‘Expert group’ to look into press regulation proposals for Scotland

Bank of England 'held no talks with SNP' over split. Picture: PA
Bank of England 'held no talks with SNP' over split. Picture: PA
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AN “EXPERT group” will be established in Scotland to investigate how the proposals of the Leveson report on press regulation could be implemented in Scotland.

• Five-member expert group to be led by Court of Session judge

• Body to examine implications for Scots law

• Lib Dem leader welcomes progress after Holyrood talks

The body was agreed at a meeting between First Minister Alex Salmond and opposition leaders at the Scottish Parliament today and will look at a possible UK-wide approach.

Lord Justice Leveson last week published his report, which was commissioned in the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal and public anger over excesses of some parts of the press.

It called for a regulatory body to be established by newspapers themselves, but it should be underpinned by law to give it teeth.

Opposition parties made it clear the five-man expert group, which will be chaired by a retired Court of Session judge, is not an implementation body.

A Labour spokesman said: “It will look at what you will need to do in Scotland if you were going to implement it with statutory underpinning.”

Labour wants a UK-wide body established, but if it was to be underpinned by law, this aspect would have to be done separately in Scotland which has its own legal system.

Mr Salmond chaired today’s talks despite opposition calls for him to step aside.

These came after Leveson’s report said he showed a “striking” readiness to act on behalf of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in its planned takeover of BSkyB, even to the point of lobbying UK ministers to reach an unlawful decision on the issue.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “I am pleased we could agree to further work on how to translate Leveson for Scotland. The expert group will look at all options and I’m pleased a UK wide solution is on the table.

“Liberal Democrats want self-regulation of the press underpinned by law to provide for quick, simple and cheap redress for victims. Today is the first step on the road to achieving that goal.”