Dec 2 2012
A key adviser to Lord Justice Leveson claims his calls for press reform laws would be illegal because it would "coerce" newspapers into holding higher standards than anyone else.
Shami Chakrabarti, one of six assessors who worked with the judge on the inquiry, told the Mail on Sunday she could not support legislation and claimed it could breach the Human Rights Act.
Lord Justice Leveson called for the industry to devise an independent regulatory body but wants it then to be backed up in law.
But the director of civil rights group Liberty warned such a move could have "serious unintended consequences".
"We were chosen as advisers because of our areas of expertise," she told the Mail on Sunday.
"Mine is human-rights law and civil liberties. In a democracy, regulation of the press and imposing standards on it must be voluntary.
"A compulsory statute to regulate media ethics in the way the report suggests would violate the Act, and I cannot support it. It would mean the press was being coerced in being held to higher standards than anyone else, and this would be unlawful."
Ms Chakrabarti said Labour leader Ed Miliband "was hasty" in declaring his full support for the recommendations made in the 2,000 page report unveiled earlier this week.
Of Hacked Off, she told the Mail on Sunday: "I understand that people who have been wronged want action. But they should be interested in outcomes, rather than particular processes. The outcome they should be seeking is a free and vibrant press with access to justice for the public when things go wrong."
David Cameron has indicated he plans to spike the so-called "Leveson law", which would back up the new independent regulator with statutory underpinning, warning he has "serious concerns and misgivings" about legislative action. But he faces intense pressure to legislate from victims of press intrusion, the public and other party leaders.