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Don’t sign Charter, press campaigners urge Queen

A worldwide group of press freedom campaigners has warned the Queen that the proposed Royal Charter on press regulation may harm the Monarchy.

In a strongly worded letter to Her Majesty, they warn that her name would be “taken in vain” if she were to sign a Charter originally devised by politicians.

Writing ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Sri Lanka, the campaigners said the proposed Charter will aid “enemies of press freedom” the world over.

The British government has said a decision on the proposed Charter will be taken by the end of this month.

The letter states:  “If the UK moves to control the press through the force of law then it will have a terrifying knock-on effect throughout the Commonwealth and much of the developing world where Britain has a key leadership role.

“The fact that it is being done by Royal Charter …will make it infinitely worse because of the respect in which you personally … are held throughout the world.”

“The actions of Britain’s Parliament will be used as an excuse by those who want to muzzle the press in their own country and stifle the free flow of information – and there are many governments who would love to do so.

“And it is your name, Your Majesty, that will regrettably be taken in vain. ‘If it is good enough for the Queen, it is good enough for us.'”

Signatories to the letter include the World Press Freedom Committee, the International Press Institute, the International Association of Broadcasting, the Inter American Press Association, the World Association of Newspapers, the Magazine Media Association and the Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust.

The industry has proposed its own version of the Royal Charter which would set up a system of regulation independent of politicians.

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  • October 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    It’s obvious that these bodies have been duped into taking this initiative by the big British press companies. The letter shows that they are completely misinformed about the content and purpose of the Royal Charter and that unlike the British public they have fallen for the hysterical scaremongering of a small group of self-interested editors and proprietors.

    ‘Worse than that, they don’t seem to realise the ludicrous position they have put themselves in by claiming to talk about democracy while demanding that the British monarch should deny the united will of every single party in Parliament.

    ‘Everything about the letter from the seven organisations suggests that either it was dictated for them by the bosses of the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Murdoch press, or that their knowledge of what is happening in Britain is informed exclusively by reading those papers, whose coverage has been biased to the point of parody.

    ‘They say in their letter that the Royal Charter is “in reality a set of repressive statutory controls” when it obviously isn’t. It is a Royal Charter and was designed as a Royal Charter as a concession to the press. Among other things, it states clearly that a press self-regulator “should not have the power to prevent publication of any material, by anyone, at any time.”

    ‘They say it “brings Parliament for the first time ever to the heart of the newsroom”. What nonsense. It protects the press and its self-regulatory system from political interference to a degree never seen before in Britain.

    ‘They say it will have “a chilling effect on journalism throughout the United Kingdom” when in practice the new system will give investigative journalists greater freedom from intimidation by powerful institutions and wealthy individuals than ever before.

    ‘Strikingly, the letter fails to take note of the shocking abuses suffered by the Queen’s subjects at the hands of big, rich newspaper companies over the past decade and more – abuses which prompted a formal public inquiry whose recommendations are implemented in the Royal Charter.

    ‘Where were these seven bodies when British newspapers were hacking phones, stealing data, intruding in privacy, bullying and libelling?’

    A full rebuttal of the letter will shortly be posted on the Hacked Off website.

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