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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little