March 20, 2013 12:05 PM

Head and shouldersLocal MP Mark Hunter has welcomed the historic cross-party agreement to implement the Leveson report, saying that it "acknowledges the concerns of victims and guarantees that those mistreated by the press have access to fair recourse" while also "protecting the freedom of the press both now and in the future."

The agreement follows the findings of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, which was setup by the Coalition Government following the revelations that several national newspapers had illegally hacked into phones to uncover private information.

The new regulatory system will replace the current regime, under which the press is self-regulated, which has led to serious wrongdoing in the past, notably the case of Milly Dowler's phone being hacked. An independent watchdog will now be set up by royal charter with independent appointments and funding. The watchdog will be able to impose of up to a million pounds on UK publishers and demand apologies from them in the event of wrongdoing. There will also be a free arbitration service for victims and a speedy complaints system that will give affected victims a voice.

Commenting, Mark said:

"I strongly welcome this historic cross-party agreement. Victims' concerns will be met and freedom of the press will be ensured.

"This solution ensures, most importantly, that the ordinary victims of press intrusion like the Dawlers and the McCanns will have access to justice. This is not about state regulation but redress for ordinary men and women who are victims of injustice.

"We need a vigorous free press, but one that is not free to bully innocent people, or free to abuse grieving families.

"People who feel they have been mistreated by powerful national newspapers need to know there is an independent body that is willing and able to stand up for them.

"The new system replaces a weak, inefficient one that was open to corruption and wrongdoing."

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