A coalition of intellectuals and cultural figures ranging from the author Ian McEwan to the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has backed an appeal to the newspaper industry to accept a Royal Charter on press reform.
On the first anniversary of the Royal Charter being agreed by the three main political parties, more than 200 high-profile figures have backed a declaration urging newspaper publishers to “embrace” the charter.
“We… 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.”
But the declaration coincided with a report from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) expressing “serious concerns” over the proposals and saying they damaged Britain’s reputation as a global beacon of press freedom. “Given the UK’s continued influence over developing nations where media are essential for the spread of democratic values, the future of a free, independent press that can hold power to account is under threat worldwide,” it said.
The report followed a fact-finding mission in which a WAN-IFRA delegation met with Culture Secretary Maria Miller, newspaper publishers and press reformers including the Hacked Off campaign.
“The lack of any real guarantees enshrining press freedom continues to expose journalism in the United Kingdom to great uncertainty, as there is nothing benign in a system that invites even the possibility of tighter restrictions on freedom of expression,” said Vincent Peyrègne, chief executive of WAN-IFRA.