The Labour Party’s leaked election manifesto confirms its pledge to “implement the recommendations” made in part one of the Leveson Inquiry into the press and begin part two of the inquiry.
In the document, which was leaked to a number of news organisations yesterday, the party claims phone hacking victims have been “let down by a Conservative government that promised them justice, but failed to follow through”.
It said: “We will implement the recommendations of part one of the Leveson Inquiry and commence part two of the inquiry that will look into the corporate governance failures that allowed the hacking scandal to occur.”
The party also raised “concerns” about newspaper closures and job losses in the local press – which it said was “an important part of our democracy and culture” – and promised a “national review into local media”.
Labour has previously voiced its support for starting Leveson part two, which will examine wrongdoing in the press and the police, and enforcing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.
Under Section 40, news media organisations not signed up to a Royal Charter press regulator would be forced to pay court costs for both sides, even if they win.
Currently only alternative press regulator Impress has gained Royal Charter recognition after the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which regulates the majority of UK news publishers, refused to sign up.
The government is currently reviewing feedback from a public consultation, which closed in January, on whether it should implement Section 40 and commence part two of the Leveson inquiry.
The consultation laid out four options for Section 40, including keeping the law under review, repealing it, fully commencing it or partially commencing it.
Partial commencement would give added protections to Royal Charter recognised publishers, but forego the penalties for those not signed up.
Press Gazette has asked for clarification from Labour over whether its support for Section 40 includes enforcing cost penalties for news publishers not regulated by Royal Charter.
Labour’s manifesto also revealed its stance on the BBC, which it declared a “national asset which we should all be proud of”.
It said: “Unlike the Conservatives, Labour will always support [the BBC] and uphold its independence. We will ensure the BBC and public service broadcasting has a healthy future.
On Channel 4, the party said: “Labour is committed to keeping Channel 4 in public ownership and will guarantee the future of Welsh-language broadcaster S4C.”
Picture: Reuters/Phil Noble