Open letter to Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, from victims of phone hacking and other forms of press abuse
Dear Secretary of State,
We, the signatories, have experienced some of the worst abuses that the press has committed in recent years, and a number of us gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in the hope that it would lead to change. We remember the Prime Minister’s promise that, in matters relating to future press self-regulation, the views of victims of press abuses would be ‘front and centre’ at all times.
It is more than three months since all parties in Parliament gave their backing to the cross-party Royal Charter closely based on the Leveson recommendations. We understood then that it would be approved by the Privy Council in May and we were disappointed when, in response to a PressBoF manoeuvre, a delay was announced. Now that the consideration of the PressBoF petition has run its course, we strongly urge you to send Parliament’s charter to the Privy Council for approval at its next meeting on 10 July.
We are aware of calls for further delay. We urge you to recall that the March 18 Charter has the backing of Parliament, is founded on the recommendations of a duly constituted public inquiry that painstakingly took account of the views of all stakeholders, and is supported by the great majority of victims of press abuses. Standing in opposition to this are representatives of parts of the press, and in particular of a part that was found by the public inquiry to have ‘wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people’. In short, a tiny if powerful vested interest with a record of causing harm to the public is challenging the democratic will of Parliament. We feel it is your duty to stand up to this.
It would be appalling if such people, in defiance of the will of the rest of society, were allowed to delay the implementation of a Government policy that has been formally approved by Parliament.
We note that the Prime Minister included this clear statement in his speech to Parliamenton 18 March, and trust that he will not buckle under pressure from the newspaper industry:
“If this system is implemented, the country should have confidence that the terrible suffering of innocent victims, such as the Dowlers, the McCanns and Christopher Jeffries, should never be repeated. My message to the press is now very clear: we have had the debate, now it is time to get on and make this system work.”
We also note with sympathy that in recent weeks you have been the target of a campaign of personal abuse and intimidation in the newspapers most opposed to change. We hope that you will have the courage to resist such pressures.
Kate and Gerry McCann
Margaret and James Watson
Baroness Sheila Hollins
Tricia and Phil Bernal