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Lord Grade: where are tabloid journalists’ humanity and conscience?

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Former BBC chairman Lord Grade has questioned the necessity for a royal charter on press regulation, but acknowledged that the newspaper industry had “brought this situation on itself“.

In a speech to the Society of Editors, the peer said that the proposal for a royal charter on press regulation was “bonkers”, adding that giving politicians the opportunity to amend statutory press regulation cannot be in the public interest”.

He conceded, however, that the journalists responsible for the phone hacking scandal among other controversies within the industry had led to the current situation on press regulation. 

Lord Grade, who is also a member of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), said, “We should never forget where this sorry trail began: With journalists behaving badly.

“The press, in other words, has brought this situation on itself. It certainly does at times seem as if tabloid journalists leave their humanity and their conscience at home when they head for the newsroom.

He added, “You do wonder how some of them sleep at night.”

Press regulation first came into the spotlight following the 2011 Leveson inquiry, in which Lord Justice Leveson led an investigation into media ethics and press regulation in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. 

Last month, leaders from the newspaper industry took to the High Court in a last ditch attempt to block the royal charter, but Lord Justice Saunders dismissed their case, saying that their legal basis for argument was “at best weak”. 

The charter was discussed by the Privy Council later that afternoon and formally approved by the Queen.

Further reading:

Judges rejects last ditch attempt for self-regulated press

Newspapers launch last minute legal attempt to block royal charter

Privy council to discuss royal charter on press regulation

Parties agreed on press regulation measures

Defenders of a free press are being dishonest

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