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.