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Daily ‘will not sacrifice integrity’ by signing Charter

A regional daily has set out its opposition to the Royal Charter on press regulation, saying the title “will not sacrifice our integrity” by signing up.

Last week the cross-party Royal Charter was approved by the Privy Council despite a legal bid by newspaper publishers to prevent it, which was turned down by High Court judges.

But following its approval, the Belfast Telegraph has now joined the widespread opposition to the charter within the industry by rejecting it in an editor’s comment piece, which said it will not “sell short the ideals of the newspaper”.

Last week, the Newspaper Society said the regional press would not back the charter and would instead push forward with its own plans for a new system of regulation, which would be called the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

And at the weekend, Culture Secretary Maria Miller indicated the Royal Charter could become redundant if an effective system of self-regulation was brought in.

The Bel Tel’s comment piece, written by editor Mike Gilson, said: “This newspaper will not be signing up to the Royal Charter proposals.

“We believe that the industry’s plans present the best future for the press and for the protection of the public. As the current phone hacking trial shows, there are already effective laws in place for those who might stray beyond acceptable boundaries.

“The press must be responsible, cannot be above the law but must be free to make mistakes as well as hold the powerful and famous to account.

“The Belfast Telegraph has a proud 143-year history of reporting the events in this part of the world without fear or favour.

“Signing up to this Royal Charter and its political interference would sell short the ideals of the newspaper. We do not intend to do that.”

Mike added that the proposals for IPSO show it would be the “toughest self-regulation in the western world”, with a majority of independent members, the ability to impose fines of up to £1m, powers to call editors to account and providing an arbitration service, which would be an alternative to costly libel court cases.


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  • November 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Mike Gilson’s stand is absolutely right. In fact, it’s the only posture that any self-respecting newspaper can take in the circumstances.
    Freedom of the press is non-negotiable in a free society. Libel laws are already in place to protect the innocent against defamation – and the criminal law is there to take care of those who hack phones.
    Journalists must not forget that the Leveson Inquiry was a travesty forced upon the press by politicians who had been exposed as thieves and cheats.
    Press controls have been advocated by the kind of people – the Hacked Off crowd – who I personally would not allow through my front door.
    The really sad aspect of this whole thing is that there are millions of people around the world, particularly those living under Third World tyrannies, who look to Britain for a lead in this kind of thing.
    What they now have to accept is that Britain doesn’t provide an example worth following. We are a nation of serfs who take this kind of nonsense lying down. A free press is our only hope.
    It’s up to Gilson and his kind to ensure that we are not enslaved by the lowlife who backed Leveson. Go for it, Mike.

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  • November 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Or you can read the Hacked Off web page for an alternative viewpoint….

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  • November 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    It’s a great shame it has come to this, but anyone who pins the blame entirely on politicians is deluding themselves about the problems in the industry. Their anger should be directed at the national tabloids, who have brought this on themselves, but unfortunately taken the rest of the industry with them.

    As for the Hacked Off crowd, I’d rather let the likes of Grant and Coogan through my door than the tabloid hacks who embarassed the profession with their shifty and evasive behaviour. The press has had the chance to regulate itself and it blew it.

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  • November 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    ‘Will not sacrifice integrity’ ?? Horse and stable door spring to mind.

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  • November 6, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Are we really to have our basic freedoms eroded by a tuppenny ha’penny actor, a silly girl singer, an unfunny comedian and a pathetic old bloke who likes having his bum whacked by good-time girls?
    Please, please, please…get off your knees. Mike Gilson and his kind deserve all our support in what really is a seminal moment in our nation’s history. Millions of soldiers’ lives have been sacrificed over the last 300 years to earn our freedom. Now we are preparing to squander it on the say-so of one wrong-headed lawyer and a bunch of self-serving political pygmies.
    MPs were caught thieving from the public by the Daily Telegraph – that’s why Leveson was given the job of shackling the press. Editors can only respond in one way – that is to defy the politicians and conform to their own proposals for self-regulation. Meanwhile, the law as it stands will take care of those – journalists or others – who break the law by hacking phones.
    A final point: let’s not forget that lawyers, insurance companies and law enforcement agencies hack phones as a matter of course. In journalism, the practice has been restricted, so far as we know, to a very small minority. I’d be prepared to bet that it has never happened in the regional press – and I doubt very much that it has been part of the broadsheet culture among the nationals.

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