Welcome for independent scrutiny of press abuses

By agency reporter
October 12, 2013

Hacked Off, the campaign against abuses by the press, has welcomed the advent of an independent structure of regulation which its advocates argue will will ensure accountability for failings while maintaining legitimate freedom of expression.

Professor Brian Cathcart, Executive Director of the campaign, said yesterday: “Hacked Off, and the victims of press abuse for whom we speak, are pleased to see the publication today [11 October 2013] of the final text of the Royal Charter on the Press.

"This brings to an end eleven months of wrangling over Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations. We now look forward to better protection for the public from the kinds of abuses that made the Leveson Inquiry necessary.

“We note that in the last-minute technical changes to the charter there have been further concessions to the press industry lobby, notably that it now permits an administrative charge for members of the public to use the new arbitration service. This is not what Lord Justice Leveson recommended and may well deter some members of the public from seeking redress when they have been wronged by news publishers.

“We trust that those newspaper organisations which have been demanding this change – notably the local and regional press – will now accept that they have no reason to object to the system and will fully embrace the Charter process.

“The way is now open to create a system of independent, effective press self-regulation that will benefit the public and poses no threat whatever to freedom of expression. Ordinary people will have far better redress when things go wrong, and the Charter will also benefit the industry, giving it a chance to rebuild trust and show its commitment to high standards.

“Victims of press abuse now look to the industry to embrace that opportunity and put behind them a shocking period in which, in the words of Lord Justice Leveson, some sections of the press all too often wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people.”

The National Union of Journalist (NUJ), meanwhile, says it does not believe a Royal Charter is the best way to set up authority for a press regulator, but gave the original charter guarded support after cross-party agreement was reached.

* Hacked Off: http://hackinginquiry.org/

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