Victims send open letter to PM urging action on press regulation

Victims of press harassment have sent an open letter to the Prime Minister ahead of his appearance at the Commons Liaison Committee on Tuesday, calling on him to clearly and speedily reject the self-regulation scheme put forward by parts of the press and expedite the sealing of the cross-party royal charter, backed by Parliament and the public.

The letter expresses victims’ dismay at the attitudes of those fighting against Leveson’s reforms and extreme disappointment that the charter agreed by all parties has been subject to nearly six months of delay.

The letter argues that the scheme proposed by News UK, Associated Newspapers and the Telegraph Media Group, known as IPSO, “clearly lacks the key elements of independence and effectiveness that the judge said were essential if the public is to be protected.” The letter accuses some press proprietors of only consulting each other, and “unsurprisingly [reaching] agreement on so-called solutions that are in their interest rather than the public’s.”

Victims of press harassment will be present at the Liaison Committee hearing on Tuesday afternoon to watch the Prime Minister face questioning from MPs on the progress of the self-regulatory system for news publishers.


Dear Prime Minister,

We are people who have experienced press abuses at first hand. You met most of us about a year ago, shortly before the publication of the Leveson Report. We note that you are due to answer questions on press reform tomorrow at the House of Commons Liaison Committee. In the spirit of your many statements on the importance of the views of victims we want to share with you our perspective on the developments of recent months.

We were grateful to all parties in Parliament for approving the Royal Charter on the press on 18 March. While it contained substantial concessions to news publishers, we strongly believe that this provides a workable means of implementing the very reasonable Leveson recommendations on press self-regulation. At the same time it addresses the concerns you expressed about crossing a Rubicon of legislation.

Given that MPs explicitly sent the Charter for sealing by the Privy Council in May, we are extremely disappointed that September has arrived and this has not yet happened. We urge you to do all you can to expedite this, so that the process of implementing the Leveson recommendations may begin.

We are dismayed by the attitude of the leaders of much of the press industry. They have shown no real regret for the grave failures identified in the report of the Leveson Inquiry, nor have they engaged in sincere dialogue with the public, with Parliament or with us about implementing the careful recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson to remedy these failures.

Instead they have consulted each other and unsurprisingly reached agreement on so-called solutions that are in their interest rather than the public’s. They have engaged in a cynical manoeuvre to delay the approval of Parliament’s Royal Charter, by submitting an alternative non-Leveson compliant Royal Charter of their own. Several papers continue to abuse the power of the press in the attempt to discredit the Leveson Inquiry and those who challenge them, and to seek to bend politicians to their will.

They are also promoting in the pages of their own newspapers a scheme for self-regulation closely based on the ‘Hunt-Black‘ plan they first proposed nearly a year ago – which both you and Lord Justice Leveson rightly found to be inadequate. Their scheme clearly lacks the key elements of independence and effectiveness that the judge said were essential if the public is to be protected from the kinds of abuses we have experienced. It also obviously fails to meet many of the Leveson-based ‘recognition criteria‘ for a worthwhile regulator that are set out in Parliament’s Royal Charter.

We commend you for the firm and historic stand that you, in common with the other main party leaders, took on this issue of press self-regulation on 18th March of this year. We urge you to reaffirm that position this week, and to make clear to leading newspaper publishers that they must change their approach if they are to win back the public’s trust.

The Leveson recommendations are generous to the press, they give full protection to freedom of expression and they are workable. All parties in Parliament support them, we support them and opinion poll evidence shows that the public overwhelmingly supports them. We urge you to send a strong message to those who own and run the press that they have nothing to fear and a great deal to gain from embracing the Leveson recommendations as set out in Parliament’s Royal Charter.

If, on the other hand, they continue to insist that they may regulate themselves in the way that suits them – in Leveson’s terms, that they have the right to go on ‘marking their own homework’ – the result will inevitably be even deeper public distrust and, without any doubt, many more victims of press cruelty and excess of the kind we have experienced.

We look forward to your reply to this letter.



Kate and Gerry McCann

Paul Dadge

Mo George

Jacqui Hames

Baroness Sheila Hollins

Dr Martin Hollins

Mike Hollingsworth

Christopher Jefferies

David Kampfner

Maire Messenger-Davies

Ben Noakes

Tom Rowland

JK Rowling

Joan Smith

Brian Paddick

Jane Winter



We rely on people like you to make a difference.

Give now to support the campaign for a free and accountable press.


1 Comment

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

September 9, 2013 at 11:53 pm

The fact that Cameron was outmanoeuvred by the Dacre & Murdoch’s lawyers either demonstrates his lack of commitment to meaningful reform or his incompetence. Possibly both.

Leave a reply