Queen sets seal on cross-party politicians' charter for press regulation

Senior press figures warn they will not sign up for scheme that they see as ‘state interference’ 

After a succession of last-gasp legal attempts by the newspaper industry to thwart the process, the Queen has given her approval to a government-backed royal charter governing the regulation of the press.

At a meeting of the Privy Council, the Queen set her seal on the document, which is backed by the three main political parties but is almost universally opposed by the publishers it is intended to oversee.

Hours earlier, senior newspaper representatives had gone to the High Court to seek an injunction to stop the Privy Council hearing, claiming that the industry’s own version of a reform charter had been unfairly rejected.

At lunchtime, Lord Justice Richards, sitting at an emergency hearing with Mr Justice Sales, had denied the press representatives an injunction, saying the dismissal of the rival charter by a committee of the Privy Council this month had not been unlawful.

The Press Standards Board of Finance (Pressbof) immediately took its case to the Court of Appeal. But at 4.45pm – 45 minutes before the Privy Council was due to meet – Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, sitting with two other Court of Appeal judges, refused the final application for an injunction pending further legal action. “We are not willing to grant interim relief ‘administratively’ pending an application for permission to appeal,” he said.

In an attempt to lessen industry opposition to the charter, the Government announced a series of late amendments before it was submitted to the Privy Council. One concession, designed to allay fears that politicians might meddle with the freedom of the press, means any future changes to the charter will require the unanimous agreement of the recognition body’s board as well as a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament.

The Privy Council meeting, held at Buckingham Palace, was attended by four ministers: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary Maria Miller, and the Liberal Democrat justice minister, Lord McNally of Blackpool.

Tony Gallagher, editor of The Daily Telegraph, was among the first senior press figures to express anger that politicians were imposing their charter and to indicate that his title would not comply. “Well done everyone involved in the royal charter,” he commented on Twitter with heavy sarcasm. “Chances of us signing up for state interference: zero.”

Mrs Miller acknowledged that the press did not have to sign up to a regulator set up under the charter but she said she hoped they would do so. “Self-regulation is exactly that… and the press obviously can choose to be subject to the royal charter or not, that is inherent in the process,” she said.

The passing of the government charter was “disappointing”, said Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors. “Those who seem to want to neuter the press forget that there are 20 national papers, 1,100 regional and local papers and hundreds of magazines who have not done any wrong but they are willing to submit themselves to the scrutiny of the most powerful regulator in the Western world, so long as it is independent of politicians now and in the future.”

The charter establishes a recognition body to oversee a powerful new regulator set up by the industry.

Hacked Off, the lobby group that has led the campaign for tighter regulation, welcomed the decision. “News publishers now have a great opportunity to join a scheme that will not only give the public better protection from press abuses, but will also uphold freedom of expression, protect investigative journalism and benefit papers financially,” it said.

The Privy Council: What is it?

Established in 1231 by Henry III, the Privy Council includes hundreds of politicians, royalty and other leading figures from the UK and from the Commonwealth.

However, just four ministers – Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is Lord President of the Council, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary Maria Miller and the Liberal Democrat Justice minister, Lord McNally of Blackpool – were present at the council meeting at Buckingham Palace yesterday when the Queen set her seal on the new Royal Charter governing regulation of  the press.

On its website, the council dismisses its reputation for secrecy as a “myth” that stems from the wording of a Tudor-era oath, still taken by councillors, which requires them to “keep secret all matters”.

Other members of the council include Prince Philip, New Zealand’s former Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and the Labour politician Lord Mandelson.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Sauce Recruitment: Senior Management Accountant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for a independently owne...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’