Hacked off: the power of the anti-press goes global

The pressure group's achievements have foreign leaders clamouring for their talents. A startling development, says John Walsh

Fresh from its triumphant negotiations with all three political parties for more effective monitoring of the press, Hacked Off, the group that champions victims of press intrusion, has begun to attract the attention of foreign governments that suffer from their own troublesome Fourth Estates.

It has emerged that Hacked Off was approached for help on 22 March by Prudence et Silence, a Brussels-based collective of businessmen and public figures. Its members have unavailingly lobbied the Belgian government for months, demanding it initiate legislation to curb or prevent hostile media reportage of sensitive EU issues and "impertinent" speculation into the private lives of MEP's wives and girlfriends. Hacked Off executive director Brian Cathcart promised to offer them a "consultative document" outlining a strategy of "enlightened pressure."

Now, it seems, Hacked Off's influence has spread. Right-wing political parties in Holland, Luxembourg and Spain have asked for consultations with Cathcart and his celebrity associates, to establish a "discursive framework" for laws that will curb the worst excesses of journalists without harming press freedom. "Obviously we're not against the press speaking truth to power," Geert Wilders, of the Freedom Party, said. "But not at the expense of individuals. Too many of our honest countrymen suffer the lies of unscrupulous editors with their own agendas. With the help of Hacked Off, we can put our best case in the House of Representatives, and debate with the voices of angels – like your Charlotte Church!"

While Hacked Off waits for parliamentary confirmation of the "Royal Charter" on press regulation that was agreed in Ed Miliband's office during the so-called "2am deal", it will have its consultancy work cut out. So many foreign administrations have asked for its assistance in regulating the press, it has had to employ a communications consultant, Alf Prolio, 37, formerly with Friends of the Earth.

"Our post bag, both physical and digital, is bulging every day," he said. "We've heard from senior government figures in Kenya, the Seychelles, even Italy, asking for our help in setting up plausible-sounding structures for curbing the Press. Only yesterday, someone from Burma got in touch, can you believe it?"

Some Hacked Off supporters have complained about the ethics of assisting foreign powers with poor records of human rights.

"I've heard these arguments," a Hacked Off spokesman said. "And our conscience is clear. The principle stands. The press needs to be curbed, in case it upsets the weak and vulnerable. Full stop. If, say, the Sudanese government recognises the truth of this, our two countries will soon take a step closer to thinking alike."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Lead Systems Developer / Software Developer

COMPETITIVE + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Lead Systems Developer / Sof...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Engagement Manager - French or German Speaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The world's leading financial services careers...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive - 6 Months Contract

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Digital Marketing Executive...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Senior Account Manager

40-45K DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Manager / Senior Account Manag...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future