(London) New culture secretary Sajid Javid has set out to draw a line under the controversy over press regulation by stating that the government has “no further role” in the issue.
In his first major interview since taking the job, Javid says it is up to the press to decide whether it submits to be governed by the royal charter agreed by the three main political parties in the wake of the Leveson inquiry.
“In terms of the role of this department . . . the work has been done, and it is now a decision for the press what they want to do next,” he says. “I don’t see any further role for government in this.”
Although he acknowledges that “any industry has its bad apples”, he argues that the UK press is “the best in the world”, adding: “It is fearless without favour”.
His comments will enrage campaigners who believe the press is ignoring Lord Justice Leveson’s calls for tougher press regulation after the phone-hacking scandal shook public confidence in the media.
Some 18 months after the Leveson inquiry wound up, government officials are pressing ahead with a new system of oversight based on the royal charter. However, the vast majority of newspaper publishers are committed to a separate regime, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which will not seek official approval.