Leveson report: summit of party leaders set for Wednesday morning

Meeting between David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband pencilled in as talks on implementing Leveson report drag

A three-way summit between David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband was pencilled in for Wednesday morning as cross-party talks on how to implement the Leveson report drag, following a meeting between front benchers of all three main parties that made little progress on Tuesday afternoon.

Oliver Letwin, David Cameron's policy fixer, presented a half-finished version of his royal charter plan for press regulation at Tuesday's talks, disappointing politicians of other parties present who thought the cabinet officer minister would finally present a complete scheme on how the Conservatives intend to respond to Leveson.

The Letwin paper, presented by the minister at a meeting attended by Maria Miller, the culture secretary, plus Harriet Harman and Lord Falconer for Labour, did not spell out who Letwin wants to act as verifiers of a revamped Press Complaints Commission, nor how it would be funded or remain insulated from political interference.

Politicians present were surprised by the lack of firm detail, given that Letwin had been canvassing firmer proposals in private meetings. His plan to avoid the need for a press law would involve creating a body to audit the work of the new press regulator, establishing it by royal charter, a model first used in the Middle Ages.

However, while Letwin presented his plan in outline, there was no reference to the so-called "three wise men" scheme that he has mooted elsewhere, in which three senior academics or similar public figures could audit whether a new press regulator was compliant with Lord Justice Leveson's report.

Letwin's paper also offered little detail on how the new body would be kept out of the clutches of politicians. A suggestion that the press verifier could only be created or amended on the say-so of all three main party leaders was not in the document – although that could be agreed instead at the leaders' summit if it goes ahead on Wednesday.

The Lib Dems were represented by former Scottish party leader Lord Wallace, who it was said, expressed concerns about the durability of the royal charter press regulator. Earlier this week, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was signalling that he was open-minded about the Conservative charter plan – but Labour remains of the view that only a law would be an effective way of entrenching the regulator.

Separately, Miller brought along two draft bills as an alternative to the royal charter scheme, described as long and short respectively. There were discrepancies between the bills and the royal charter proposal, with the bills making generic proposals that a "recognition commissioner" be created to supervise the work of the replacement for the PCC – which could be an individual or a number of individuals.

Brian Cathcart, the director of Hacked Off, which is campaigning for a bill to underpin the work of a new press regulator, said: "Our strong suspicion is that the royal charter is being adopted by ministers as a device to enable editors and proprietors to escape effective accountability."

He added that "a recognition body that is Leveson-compliant must, by definition, be established by parliament".