Coalition of 200+ leading figures urge press bosses: embrace the Royal Charter and give Britain a free and accountable press

An unprecedented coalition of more than 200 leading figures have joined victims of past press abuse to send a strong message to newspaper bosses: don’t repeat the mistakes of the past – embrace the Leveson Royal Charter and give the British public a free and responsible press.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the historic Royal Charter agreement, some of the biggest names in literature, arts, science, academia, design, human rights, business and the law – plus thousands of concerned members of the public – have added their names to a growing Declaration in support of the Royal Charter on press self-regulation.

Danny Boyle, JK Rowling, Michael Palin, Sir Tom Stoppard, Nick Davies, Sir David Attenborough, Michael Frayn, Alan Bennett, Philip Pullman, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Irvine Welsh, Bob Geldof, Albert Scardino, Ian McEwan, Helen Fielding, John Cleese, V.S. Naipaul, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, AS Byatt, Rowan Williams and Prof Richard Dawkins are amongst hundreds of leading cultural figures calling for British newspapers to accept the Royal Charter.

In a series of bold advertisements appearing Tuesday 18 March 2014 in The Guardian, The Independent, The Evening Standard, i, New Statesman, The Spectator and elsewhere, signatories to the Declaration urge newspapers to embrace the Royal Charter system giving vital protection to ordinary people while safeguarding the press from political interference.


Ian McEwan, author, said:

“The right to freedom of expression is the bedrock of our liberty. Without it, none of our other cherished rights could have been talked or written into existence. But no freedom is absolute and all rights carry responsibilities. Freedom of expression is not the freedom to bully, to intimidate, to intrude where there is no public interest, or to corrupt public bodies with secret bungs. Leveson, rather like a good, hard-working journalist, exposed many such abuses in the press. The abusers, who are a mighty and self-interested faction, prefer business as usual. But those who value free-thinking and open political process know that bullies and corrupters must be held to account. We urgently need wise and plausible regulation.”


Author Michael Frayn commented:

I signed because I believe in both the right to free speech and the right to proper independent redress when that right is abused.  Conflicting rights are difficult to reconcile, and the only hope is through the rule of law.


Dr Gerry McCann said:

Given the strong public support for Leveson it is not a surprise that all these eminent writers, film-makers, investigative journalists and other leading figures from the creative industries, are backing it. But it is very gratifying that they are prepared to stand publicly with the victims of press abuse and call on the newspapers to comply with the Royal charter.”


Author Dame AS Byatt said: 

I think that what I care about is that there should be some sort of oversight (regulation) of press excesses and that it should not be in the hands of the press itself. We have seen that that doesn’t work. Equally I don’t really want government regulating the press directly – that could be dangerous in the future. I think Leveson is a workable compromise.”


John Cleese, comedian and writer, remarked:

The big newspapers bosses are lying though their teeth about the Leveson recommendations.They say their freedom is being  threatened, but when anyone points out what self-serving rubbish this is, they ignore these arguments and instead attack the people who are trying to get the truth heard. Their unscrupulousness is breath-taking.


Irvine Welsh, author, said:

The Leveson Inquiry, instigated by David Cameron, has delivered modest proposals for preserving press freedom, by encouraging more responsible behaviour from newspaper proprietors and publishers. Those same proprietors and publishers should now accept the will of the people and implement these sensible recommendations.”


Victoria Wood, comedian, commented:

Some of Britain’s newspapers are among the world’s finest, and all of them have an absolutely vital role in keeping powerful people and organisations in check.  But there can’t be a repeat of the abuses of innocent people carried out by some newspaper groups.  Lord Leveson made his recommendations and our Parliament backed them.  It’s difficult to believe we’re still waiting for action.  It’s time for newspaper bosses to accept that their propaganda on this issue has been seen for what it is.  The public wants properly effective and truly independent self-regulation – as laid down by the Royal Charter. And it won’t wait any longer.”


Novelist David Mitchell said:

A healthy democracy requires that conscientious journalists are able to expose political malpractice without fear of reprisals.  But a decent society requires that predators and stalkers posing as reporters do not have carte-blanche to maim the reputations and trash the privacy of innocent people, particularly when those people have become newsworthy merely through being involved in personal tragedy.  Lord Leveson’s cautious and sane recommendations are the best hope for a generation at striking the right balance between defending free speech and defending the innocent.  The Press Charter should matter to all of us, and should be embraced by any serious newspaper.”


Jo Brand, comedian, added:

I support the Leveson Royal Charter because I would like to see a free and accountable press untainted by the whims of powerful individuals, the unethical and sometimes illegal acts of those for whom the price is right and the ambition of those who seek to promote themselves…and I don’t mean performers here.”


The Declaration states:

“We believe that a free press is a cornerstone of democracy.  It should be fearless in exposing corruption, holding the powerful to account and championing the powerless.  It has nothing to lose, and can only be enhanced, by acknowledging unethical practice in its midst and acting firmly to ensure it is not repeated.

“We also believe that editors and journalists will rise in public esteem when they accept a form of self-regulation that is independently audited on the lines recommended by Lord Justice Leveson and laid down in the Royal Charter of 30 October 2013.

“It is our view that this Charter safeguards the press from political interference while also giving vital protection to the vulnerable.  That is why we support it and that is why we urge newspaper publishers to embrace it.”


The Declaration is coordinated and published by Hacked Off, the campaign for a free and accountable press, and is generously funded by members of the public responding to a Hacked Off appeal.


Signatories to the Declaration include:


A C Grayling – Philosopher

Alan Bennett – Writer

Alan Hollinghurst – Author

Albert Scardino – Journalist

Alfonso Cuaron – Filmmaker

Andrew Gamble – Academic

Angus Macqueen – filmmaker

Anna Van Heeswijk – Women’s group

Anthony Seldon – Historian

Antony Beevor – Historian

Artemis Cooper – Writer

Baroness Beeban Kidron – Filmmaker

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC – Human rights campaigner

Baroness Onora O’Neill – Philosopher

Baroness Sheila Hollins – Parliamentarian and mother of Abigail Witchells

Baroness Valentine – Third sector

Bella Freud – Designer

Ben Elton – Comedian and author

Benedict Cumberbatch – Actor

Bianca Jagger – Campaigner

Bill Forsyth – Filmmaker

Bob Geldof KBE – Musician and campaigner

Brian Paddick – Victim of press abuse

Brian Woods – filmmaker

Bryan Adams – Musician

Carolyn Fairbairn – Businessperson

Christopher Eccleston – Actor

Christopher Jefferies – Victim of press abuse

Claire Tomalin – Writer

Clare Balding – Broadcaster

Craig Raine – Poet

Dame AS Byatt – Author

Dame Vivienne Westwood – Designer

Danny Boyle – Filmmaker

David Baddiel – Comedian

David Gilmour – Musician

David Heyman – Filmmaker

David Mitchell – Author

David Tennant – Actor

David Yelland – Editor (recovering)

Dawn French – Comedian

Dennis Stevenson – Philanthropist

Dr Madeleine Coy – Academic

Dr Tim Markham – Academic

Edward Benthall – Finance

Edward Bowles – Father of Sebastian

Emma Thompson – Screenwriter & actress

Eric Idle – Comedian

Graham Norton – Broadcaster

Guy Chambers – Record producer

Guy Ritchie – filmmaker

Helen Belcher – LBGT Group

Helen Fielding – Author

HJK – Victim of press abuse

Hugh Grant – Actor

Ian McEwan – Author

Imran Khan – Human rights campaigner

Irvine Welsh – Writer

J K Rowling – Author

Jacqui Hames – Victim of press abuse

Jake & Dinos Chapman – Artist

Jake Arnott – Author

James Blunt – Musician

James Fox – Writer

Jane Winter – Victim of press abuse

Jeanette Winterson – Writer

Jemima Khan – Journalist

Jeremy King – Entrepreneur

Jo Brand – Comedian

Joan Smith – Journalist

Joanna Lumley – Actor and campaigner

John Bishop – Comedian

John Bowers QC – Law

John Cleese – Comedian and writer

John Finneman – Comedian

John Pilger – Journalist

John Willis – Filmmaker

Julian Mitchell – Author

Karen Ingala Smith – Women’s group

Kate & Gerry McCann – Victims of press abuse

Katie Hickman – Writer

Kazuo Ishiguro – Author

Krish Majumdar – filmmaker

Lee Hall – Writer

Lisa Appignanesi -Writer

Lord Peter Goldsmith – Law

Lord Puttnam – Filmmaker

Lord V.S. Naipaul – Author

Louis de Bernieres – Author

Maggie Smith – Actress

Marcus Brigstocke – Comedian

Margaret & Jim Watson – Bereaved parents and victims of press abuse

Margaret Aspinall -Hillsborough Campaigner

Mark Lewis – Law

Michael Apted – Filmmaker

Michael Frayn – Author

Michael Mansfield QC – Human rights lawyer

Michael Mansfield QC – Law

Michael Ondaatje – Writer

Michael Palin – Comedian & broadcaster

Mike Leigh – Filmmaker

Miranda Hart – Comedian and author

Mo George – Victim of press abuse

Monica Ali – Author

Neal Ascherson – Journalist

Nick Davies – Freelance journalist

Nicolas Kent – Theatre director

Nigel Newton – Publisher

Paloma Faith – Musician

Pat Loughrey – University Warden

Patricia & Phil Bernal – Co-Founder of Protection against Stalking and mother of Clare Bernal

Paul Dadge – Victim of press abuse

Peter Burden – Author

Peter Capaldi – Actor

Peter Jukes – Journalist

Peter Kosminsky – Filmmaker

Peter Morgan – Writer

Peter Tatchell – Human rights campaigner

Philip Pullman – Author

Polly Sansom – Author

Polly Toynbee – Journalist

Prof Alastair Mullis – Academic

Prof Anthony Smith – Broadcaster & academic

Prof Chris Frost – Academic

Prof Colin Blakemore – Scientist

Prof Conor Gearty – Human rights lawyer

Prof David Hutchison – Computer scientist

Prof David Nutt – Scientist

Prof Frank Webster – Academic

Prof Gavin Phillipson – Lawyer and academic

Prof Graham Murdock – Academic

Prof Greg Philo – Academic

Prof Ian Hargreaves – Academic

Prof Ivor Gaber – Academic

Prof James Curran – Academic

Prof Jean Seaon – Academic

Prof John Corner – Academic

Prof John Tulloch – Victim of press abuse

Prof Joni Lovenduski – Academic

Prof Julian Petley – Academic

Prof Justin Lewis – Academic

Prof Kevin Marsh – Journalist

Prof Máire Messenger Davies – Academic

Prof Matthew Flinders – Academic

Prof Natalie Fenton – Academic

Prof Richard Dawkins – Author

Prof Steven Barnett – Academic

Prof Stuart Allan – Scientist

Prof Suzanne Franks – Academic

Rich Peppiatt – Comedian

Richard Branson – Entrepreneur

Richard Charkin – Publisher

Richard Curtis – Filmmaker

Richard Horton – Nightjack blogger

Riz Ahmed – Actor

Robert Llewellyn – Actor

Roger Graef – Filmmaker

Rory Bremner – Comedian

Rose Unlacke – Designer

Rowan Williams – Former Archbishop

Rt Rev Stephen Platten – Bishop of Wakefield

Rufus Hound – Comedian

Russell Brand – Comedian

Salman Rushdie – Author

Sam Mendes – Filmmaker

Sandi Toksvig – Broadcaster

Sandy Naime – Museum Director & Writer

Sarah Green – Women’s group

Sean Mathias – Theatre director

Sean Sutcliffe – Entrepreneur

Sebastian Conran – Industrial Designer

Sigrid Rausing – Publisher

Sir Alan Ayckbourn – Playwright

Sir Alan Parker – Filmmaker

Sir Anthony Salz – Law

Sir Cyril Chantler – Doctor

Sir David Attenborough – Broadcaster and naturalist

Sir David Hare – Playwright

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC – Human rights campaigner

Sir Ian McKellan – Actor

Sir Jonathan Miller – Writer

Sir Michael Holroyd – Biographer

Sir Nicholas Hytner – Theatre Director

Sir Ranulph Fiennes – Writer and explorer

Sir Simon Rattle – Conductor

Sir Simon Robertson – Business

Sir Stephen Sedley – Jurist

Sir Tim Smit – Environmentalist

Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett – Philanthropist

Sir Tom Stoppard – Playright

Sophie Bennett – Feminist campaigner

Stephen Daldry – Film and theatre director

Stephen Frears – Filmmaker

Stephen Fry – Writer and broadcaster

Steve Coogan – Comedian and writer

Sue Roberts – Hillsborough Campaigner

Sue Stapely – Law

Susana Giner – Youth group

Tamsin Allen – Law

Terence Conran – Designer

Terrence Tehranian – Entrepreneur

Terry Gilliam – Filmmaker

Terry Jones – Comedian and filmmaker

Tim Smit – Environmentalist

Tony Robinson – Actor & Broadcaster

Victoria Wood – Writer & comedian

Will Hutton – Journalist & former editor

William Boyd – Author

William Sieghart – Publisher

Willy Russell – Playwright

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – Journalist

Zoe Margolis – Victim of press abuse

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Trevor Parkerreply
March 18, 2014 at 8:28 am

I just have this feeling if the whole country sign up apart from the press
still no change.
The invisable few running the country. Only they arent we know who they are.

Jacqueline O’Connorreply
March 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm

A pure breach of privacy.

Theresa Boughton-Fox – victim of mefis abusereply
March 18, 2014 at 4:46 pm

The press shouldnt be allowed to print want they like just because they thinkthe public will read it. The Media and journalists neef to be made accountable for their actions.

Bridgette spendleyreply
March 18, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Customer service

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