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New regulatory system soon, Hunt tells peers

The chairman of the Press Complaints Commission said today he was confident the media industry could deliver a new regulatory structure by the middle of the year.

Lord Hunt told fellow peers he was “optimistic” of a good outcome as he spoke during a Lords debate on the Leveson report on press standards.

He said: “We shall see a profound change of culture and an end to sloppy journalism ruining the lives of innocent people without losing all that is good in our process.

“We shall demonstrate that for a good journalist freedom of expression and professional principles can and must be inseparable.”

Until the new structure was fully up and running, he said it remained his responsibility to ensure that the PCC continued to deliver its “fast, fair and free” service to the public.

A survey released this week showed there is currently an 86pc satisfaction rate among those who have used the service.

In his report, Lord Jutstice Leveson called for an independent regulatory body that was able to secure the voluntary support and membership of the entire industry and able to command the support of the public.

Lord Hunt said:  “I am confident that together with the industry I can deliver that new structure, with comprehensive sign-up from right across the newspaper and magazine industries by the middle of this year and it will then be for others here and in the other place to decide whether any form of statute is required, either to guarantee the independence of the new regulator or to underpin the proposed incentives to membership.”

Culture secretary Maria Miller has said the government retains the option of legislation as a last resort if the industry fails to come up with a new system.

Labour has criticised government suggestions that the new system could be underpinned by a Royal Charter as placing too much power in the hands of the monarch.