Open judgement: In publishing the Royal Charter on press regulation, we do not necessarily endorse it

This is not a document to be dismissed out of hand, as others have done

Share

If all the hot air that has been expended on the future of press regulation could somehow be collected, we would no longer have an energy problem. That said, there is no doubt that the debate has been important, nay historic. There has been, though, an element of hysteria attached to the proceedings, beginning with the run-up to the Leveson Inquiry, the judicial hearings themselves, publication of the Leveson report and then, ever since, attempts to implement a new framework that complies with the judge’s recommendations.

Which is why we give our readers the opportunity today to read in full the Royal Charter on the proposed system. We publish the charter without omission with only a minimum of explanation.

Ever since it was founded, The Independent has believed in giving its readers the facts and letting them judge for themselves. Let us be clear: publication does not mean we endorse the Royal Charter. But it does indicate that this is not a document to be dismissed out of hand, as others have dismissed it.

We appreciate the intense efforts by its proposers – the three main political parties – to steer a course that balances democratic hegemony with press freedom. Indeed, such has been the level of vitriol heaped upon the Royal Charter that it is forgotten that it was originally proposed by the Prime Minister to an anxious press as a way of avoiding the need for parliamentary oversight of its industry.

Faced with the prospect of some sort of “press law”, the newspapers were presented with an alternative by David Cameron and his Policy Minister, Oliver Letwin. It was written into the Royal Charter proposal that the new regulatory regime could be changed only by a two-thirds  majority of both Houses of Parliament.The likelihood of such a proportion ever being achieved was thought to be negligible. That might have been true if applied to any other walk of life, but relations between the press and politicians being what they are, the chances of two-thirds of MPs and peers voting to punish journalists did not seem that remote.

Which is why a last-minute amendment proposed by the Culture and Media Secretary, Maria Miller, that a two-thirds majority of the “Recognition Panel”, the body that oversees the new press regulator, would also be required, could only be positive. Such a change would be a safeguard against political interference. But even that might not be enough: some critics are implacably opposed to Parliament having any say in how the press is regulated.

Others highlight, too, the arcane nature of the Privy Council, which meets tomorrow to agree the new scheme. The Council meets in secret and its affairs are kept  deliberately opaque. It seems absurd that decision-making so in need of being transparent should in the end be subject to such an arcane, old-fashioned process.

While the Royal Charter has been wending its way round the recesses of Whitehall, the larger newspaper groups have got on and made progress in forming the industry’s own self-regulator, a replacement for the existing but no longer fit-for-purpose Press Complaints Commission.

Called the Independent Press Standards Organisation, or Ipso, it is a significant improvement on its predecessor; but its its constitution is not perfect either.

Which will we end up with: the Royal Charter or Ipso? It is too early to tell. For now, the battle lines are firmly drawn. But there is one certainty: the rules governing the press will be far tougher than before. There is no going back – Lord Justice Leveson has seen to that.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker
 

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game