The Telegraph View argues that,”The question of how our press is regulated is a question of how best to defend free speech. It is about ensuring that responsible newspapers have the freedom to publish what they wish and that the public have the freedom to read what we publish. That is why we cannot accept the current proposals for regulation by statute.
We have always accepted the need for a new regulatory system in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry, and acknowledged the case for industry-wide reform. We also agreed with Lord Justice Leveson’s conclusion that any new system should be self-regulating, independent and operate with the consensus of the newspaper industry.
Unfortunately, what politicians ended up proposing departed from these principles. An alliance of MPs and activist groups, keen to lash out at the Right-wing press, strong-armed the three main parties into agreeing a regulatory framework rooted in statute by Royal Charter – thereby forcing the Queen to put her signature on a deeply controversial document.
Under the terms of the charter, which was passed by the Privy Council yesterday, if two thirds of Parliament wishes to amend the charter at some future date, in order to intimidate the press, then it has the mechanism to do so. Some attempt has been made to make this more palatable by suggesting that it would also require the agreement of a panel appointed by the Public Appointments Commission. But this would only have to include those vaguely defined as having “industry experience” – leaving the possibility open that politicians could conspire to attack the press.
Such a scenario is not unimaginable. The Guardian’s recent investigation into state spying is exactly the kind of reporting that could spark a moral panic among politicians and give them cause to limit what the press can publish. If Parliament can find the numbers to impose a royal charter upon the industry, it can also find the numbers necessary to censor it.
It is, therefore, unsurprising that publishers are refusing to endorse the Royal Charter – or that The Daily Telegraph is among them. The press has produced a sensible counter-proposal that would not only represent the toughest regulation of its kind in the Western world, but would also keep the press free of parliamentary control. But our goodwill and patient effort have been in vain. Attempts to seek an injunction stopping the charter from being brought to the Privy Council have failed, and it has been hard to obtain a fair hearing for our constitutional case. Nevertheless, we will continue to fight”
- Newspapers lament signing of the royal charter on press regulation (theguardian.com)
- ‘A year’ to set up press watchdog (bbc.co.uk)
- Newspapers says Royal Charter is ‘dark day’ for freedom (theweek.co.uk)
- Newspaper groups lose battle to stave off Royal Charter (voiceofrussia.com)
- Papers to continue regulation fight (standard.co.uk)
- Policy paper: Leveson Report: Cross Party Royal Charter (gov.uk)
- Not a word of debate as Queen approves new press regime (telegraph.co.uk)
- Will press charter damage journalism? (edition.cnn.com)
- The New Royal Charter on Press Regulation (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- UK press tries to block regulation (edition.cnn.com)