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Press deal allows all sides to claim victory.

A DEAL struck between Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats to create an independent press regulator by royal charter was yesterday welcomed by the Labour Shadow Welsh Secretary.

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted the proposed new system - put forward in response to Lord Justice Leveson's report in the wake of the phone-hacking scandals - would not be set up by legislation.

The Conservative leader said such an approach would be "fundamentally wrong in principle".

But he acknowledged legislation was necessary to establish a system of exemplary damages for newspapers which did not sign up to the regulator.

He also confirmed the need for two-thirds of parliamentarians in the Commons and Lords to change the royal charter would be enshrined in law.

He argued: "It is legislation to protect the royal charter, it is not legislation to recognise the royal charter."

Labour MP Owen Smith welcomed the deal agreed early yesterday, saying: "As a former journalist, I am convinced that the free and fearless British press is one of the best features of our democracy and our country, and should be defended as such.

"But I do not accept that some form of legal framework to curb the most egregious excesses of, in particular, the tabloid press and to offer proper redress to those people who are 'done over', is irreconcilable with maintaining those cherished freedoms.

"The hacking scandal was clearly an outrage.

Not so much for the invasion of privacy of politicians and other private figures, but for the cases such as the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone, or the terrible plundering of the lives of the McCann family for salacious newspaper copy."
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 19, 2013
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