Tuesday 25th October 2016                 Change text size:

Leveson, one year on: public figures back royal charter on press regulation

Photo: Bobbie Johnson via Flickr

More than 100 people from the worlds of science, academia, literature and the arts have publicly backed the royal charter on press regulation, 12 months to the day since Sir Brian Leveson’s comprehensive review of the culture, practices and ethics of the British press was published.

Comedians Stephen Fry, John Cleese and Steve Coogan, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, actor Hugh Grant, writer Jemima Khan, author JK Rowling and former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams are among those who have added their names to a statement co-ordinated by campaign group Hacked Off.

The royal charter, which was put before the privy council in October, was backed by all the main political parties. Two High Court judges rejected a last minute attempt from senior press figures, who said the press should be self-regulating, to block the charter’s passage.

The legislation was proposed on the back of the Leveson report, published on November 29 last year, which was undertaken following a series of press scandals, most notably the phone hacking furore that led to the closure of the News of the World in 2011.

In an advert published in the Guardian on Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of Leveson’s review, the signatories say, “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 October 30 2013.”

They add, “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.”

Victims of press intrusion also are also among the signatories of the statement. Christopher Jefferies, the man accused by sections of the national press of murdering Bristol architect Joanna Yates in 2011, and Kate and Gerry McCann, whose daughter Madeline went missing in 2007, add their names.

The advert, which was funded by members of the public who had responded to a Hacked Off appeal, calls on people to add their name to the declaration at www.hackinginquiry.org/signup.

Further reading:

Who will guard the guardians? – Leveson reports

The political reaction to Leveson

A short history of trying to regulate an irreverent, unruly and opinionated press

Judges rejects last ditch attempt for self-regulated press

The Guide to Responsible Media 2012

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