Hacked Off response to press rejection of Royal Charter

Posted: April 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Press split as some newspapers show us they have learnt nothing

Editors and proprietors of some newspapers, defying the will of Parliament, have today launched a bid to block any kind of independent regulation of the press that would be capable of protecting the public from the abuses that made the Leveson inquiry necessary.

They are unilaterally rejecting the findings of a formal public inquiry that condemned newspapers for ‘wreaking havoc in the lives of innocent people’ and are threatening to set up a new regulator of their own that will inevitably be another industry poodle like the discredited Press Complaints Commission.

As part of their plan they say they will set up their regulator under a Royal Charter of their own – based on a draft document published in February that would have given editors control of every aspect of the operation.

Editors would have a veto on all appointments, they would be able to pick and choose which complaints to respond to, they would be able to bury corrections in the back pages and they would continue to write their own rule-book.

Under such a system the public could have no confidence that their complaints would be dealt with impartially because, like the fatally flawed PCC, the new body would put the interests of editors before those of ordinary people with complaints.

This desperate move by editors and proprietors – rejecting the Royal Charter agreed last month by all parties in Parliament and due to be approved by the Queen in days – is only the latest proof that most of the industry has learned no lessons from the Leveson experience. They are not sorry for the abuses exposed at the inquiry, or for the further abuses exposed almost weekly since, and they do not accept the need for real change.

This is despite abundant opinion poll evidence (which papers stubbornly refuse to report) showing that the overwhelming majority of the public wants truly independent and effective press regulation that does not interfere with free speech. That is what Leveson recommended and that is what the Royal Charter approved by Parliament will deliver.

30 comments

  1. James Morrow - reply

    Keep asking for extreme punitive fines for those newspapers that transgress the suggested code of practice from the Leveson inquiry.

    • Evan Harris - reply

      Thanks for your comment.

      The Crime and Courts Bill provides that any newspaper who does not a join an approved (by the independent Royal Charter body) self-regulator, and thereby denies citizens/victims access to cheap arbitration, will be likely to have to pay the costs of reasonable court actions (even if they win). In addition, in rare cases, newspapers who a court has found has deliberately or recklessly disregarded the rights of others, and has in so doing “behaved outrageously”, will risk exemplary damages.

      These penalties for being outside are intended to incentivise joining, which offers reciprocal benefits.

    • Rod McCall - reply

      I do not want any other Carter contol with the press Rod McCall

    • Bede David - reply

      Now that Parliament has decided on a formula for the regulation of the Press, it is completely unacceptable for the Press to try and alter it by one iota. The Press is the erring body that has caused so much misery for ordinary people by interfering in their private lives, a little humility is what it should be showing not injured innocence. Let us hope with the continuing bringing to justice of the guilty it will eventually get the message.

    • I Thompson - reply

      say to the newspaper proposals

      • I Thompson - reply

        Say two fingers to the newspapers and I do not mean victory

    • Harry Clark - reply

      If we could trust the Press – or rather, certain sections thereof – freedom of the Press could be preferable. But all too often, such trust has been shown to be misplaced. Add to that, monetary influences, and – sad to say – we have a corrupt situation: one that Leveson tries to change for the better

  2. Transparency now - reply

    Hi “Hacked Off”.

    Who funds you please?

  3. Marchie Haugh - reply

    Now why does that not surprise me!!!!!!

  4. Wayne Day - reply

    Keep the pressure up. They must never be allowed to return their old tricks

  5. hadrian - reply

    The UK press is owned by a few people, call that democracy?, I call it prejudice of a most severe kind..

  6. Steve James - reply

    You have lost
    Badly
    Now tell us who funds you?

  7. John Patrick Connolly - reply

    The “objectors” will be those same “news”papers that frightened so many parents into refusing to have kids MMR vaccinated when they supported Wakefield’s corrupt findings.

  8. DAVID BALDWIN - reply

    Newspapers and media and Judges are the ULTIMATE control mechanism of the population – there is no ” freedom of the pres ” – THEY chose what to publish and not to publish
    The press is a lever to topple governments and push the interests of the very few in detriment of interests of the citizens or the communities – it is an instrument of power and we are taking away the weapon from the powerful overlords and disarming them – they now experience the terror of being stripped naked as without the pen they can no longer form alliances of power
    The press are merchants of caos – they feed on scandal and pain and love to inflict pain and topple people They are agent provocateurs causing reactions – the most flagrant example was the Police Crime Commissioner that spent £700 on a chauffered driven trip when between 2000 and 2010 the 43 Chief of Police and Sir Hugh Orde had hyped crime – inventing crime – to claim over £30,000,000 from the tax payer
    Crime has dropped 30% and no one writes as to how it was hyped in the past by Chiefs of Police themselves to make money by claiming for bogus arrests, charges and prosecutions
    The scandal of the £700 expense of the PCC was developed to embarass the Government and make the Police Crime Commissioners look like a failed project when in fact it was a very successful action to take the power away from the Chiefs of Police and ACPO

  9. Alan Toms - reply

    They MUST NOT be allowed to get away with this. I don’t care who funds you – those who have in the past and conttinue now to wreck lives must be brought to book whatever Dacre, Murdoch, or Cameron and those other politicians in the pockets of this evil bunch want.

    • Colin Patrick - reply

      Keep the pressure up lads, it’s obviously working

  10. YamYam - reply

    Hadrian: “The UK press is owned by a few people, call that democracy?, I call it prejudice of a most severe kind..”

    Then start a new newspaper. Nobody is stopping you. Newspapers aren’t democracies; they’re businesses.

  11. Andrew - reply

    The usual Hacked Off spin here. How can you say that the rival charter represents a ‘split’ in the press and is put forward just by ‘some’ newspapers? The truth is it is the Newspaper Society which represents national papers and 1,100 local papers that is behind it. The only papers not to sign up to the truly independent regulator plan are the Guardian and the Independent, and judging from the comments of their editors, it looks like they will soon be on board

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  13. Richard - reply

    Biggest criminals in the country…….the press……..the politicians………and the police. Latter two are frightened to death of the press, they’ve got so many skeletons in the cupboard and the press have the cupboard key.

    Our country has a lot to be proud of, but our press is an embarrassment to us all. A strong prime minister (thatcher like) would put the press in their place but this lot think its a popularity contest, try x-factor Cameron you push over.

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  17. val - reply

    Who funds you?
    Hacked off comprises of people who want to hide their dirty secrets and not be accountable. A free press is essential with NO government interference. Australia has thrown out this threat to a free press, so should we. Our press is already handicapped by injunctions and D notices.

    • Ken Ferguson - reply

      Who funds YOU? A free press is worth nothing if it’s a dishonest press. Those of us unlucky enough to have had to deal with the horrific abuses of the press and had our concerns abused by the PCC in defence of poor and downright dishonest editors, take a different view. Free press? You must be joking. Put Paul Dacre and his buddies on trial in a criminal court and perhaps I’ll start listening. So Val, who funds you?

  18. Pingback: The newspapers’ royal regulation gambit | THE FREE SPEECH BLOG

  19. Well Actually - reply

    @val: Hacked Off funding revealed: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/may/11/hacked-off-donors-revealed

    So music producers, science writers, and a hedge fund business manager, as well as Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and a foundation set up by the owners of The Independent newspapers.

    On the “anti-Leveson” side – we still don’t know who is funding them – but we can guess (Rupert Murdoch perhaps, or maybe Lord Rothermere?)

  20. R.Loughran - reply

    We do not want the press barons to continue to wield the power they possess where it appears they are a law to themselves. They should now sign up to the Royal Charter which is the result of democratic enquiry & procedure. They should not be allowed to manipulate the situation and thus to continue with their old routines. They do not inspire trust & they manipulate& distort the truth and damage democratic life& out comes.

  21. steve mcconnon - reply

    There is nothing to fear from independent regulation. I am a nurse and they along with midwives have been regulated under statute for a long time. There are lay people on the panel that decides whether a nurse is fit to practise if a serious complaint is made. You do not here nurses complaining of the independent regulator. The only thing the press have to fear from independent regulation is a loss of some of their unwieldy power. They were told in the 1980s that they were in “the last chance saloon”. Look how many abuses they have committed since then.

  22. John Astill - reply

    The Leveson Inquiry was shaped out of years of abuse by our so called free press, journalism that had become so blasé about everyone else’s rights that it would print what, when and how it wanted without fear of retribution, the only rights it currently seems interested in are its own. Aren’t we losing sight of this under their unremitting bleatings about freedom of the press, something it knows its victims are not afforded unless they can well afford to pay for it?
    This is the same free press owned by a few Press Barons who dictate to the many, proficient in making or breaking now or future governments, who bawl and screech like an angry child having a tantrum when told to apologize or print a retraction where it can actually be seen. Leversons recommendations were not a punishment or retribution against the press they were simply protection for those least able to protect or defend themselves against a press too willing to corrupt or likewise be corrupted, a press even capable of doing the governments bidding and launching witch hunts against the sick and disabled in order to protect the real culprits in this country’s financial gaffs the Bankers and Chancellor of the Exchequer, even to whipping up the latest smoke screen the Common market referendum to take pressure off the Government regarding the state of the nations growth and the economy, the real problems at the moment. (Akin to Argentina’s smokescreen shouting about the Falkland Islands when it’s economy lurches further down the pan)
    The Leverson Inquiry showed the Press Complaints Commission (set up in the late 1980’s to replace the Press Council (woefully inadequate) which replaced the General Council of the Press in the 1950’s (also woefully inadequate), was again woefully inadequate. However expecting the press to put its own house in order isn’t this like putting a convicted paedophile in the position of head warden in a children’s home for the third or fourth time hoping this time he’ll behave?
    The government should handle this one or are they frightened of getting a bad press.

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