In Brief

Second Leveson inquiry rejected by MPs

Labour had called for the inquiry into phone-hacking and press regulation to continue

The Government was handed a much-need boost yesterday when MPs narrowly rejected the call for a new Leveson-style inquiry into press regulation, after ministers announced last-minute concessions to win over potential Tory rebels.

The planned second part of the Leveson inquiry, which was set up by former prime minister David Cameron in 2011 to look into press regulation in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, was scrapped by ministers in March. They said it should no longer go ahead because of the amount of time that had elapsed since the scandal, opposition from MPs and the press - and the changing media landscape.

A Labour proposal to force the Government’s hand, which would have obliged ministers to establish a second Levenson inquiry into unlawful conduct by newspapers, was narrowly defeated last week. It returned for a second vote after an amendment in the Lords.

A number of Tory MPs had signalled they would support the amendment, risking an embarrassing defeat for a Government which is seeking unity over Brexit. In the end, a series of last-minute concessions by the Culture and Media Secretary, Matt Hancock, were enough to see it off.

Under the plans, the Information Commissioner will publish a review into the media’s handling of personal data every five years, while the Government will also review the effectiveness of dispute resolution procedures used by newspapers to handle complaints.

Addressing MPs, Hancock said: “While our press is not perfect, the culture that allowed phone-hacking to become the norm has now gone. We have the basis of a stronger and fairer system... where the press is free to challenge those in power and hold them to account.”

The Times says the Commons defeat “represents a severe blow to press reform and privacy campaigners who have been lobbying for a new inquiry into newspaper abuses”.

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