Lobbying group Hacked Off has been accused of trying to create a modern-day equivalent of the Dangerous Dogs Act by neutering the entire press industry.
As reported by HTFP reported yesterday, the campaign group that represents phone-hacking victims has written to regional and local editors in support of government plans for a system of press regulation overseen by Royal Charter.
In a round-robin letter, the group’s executive director Brian Cathcart branded as “untrue” the Newspaper Society’s assertions that the proposed system would be more expensive for local newspapers.
Said Bob: “It is the height of arrogance that Hacked Off behave as if they know more about the industry than regional and local editors.
“It is typical of a lobby group most of whose members have little idea of how the press is organised and how the vast majority of newspapers and their journalists work.
“They should read Lord Justice Leveson’s report. He said most of the time , most journalists behave perfectly properly, providing a vital public service.
“Hacked Off wants to create the equivalent of the Dangerous Dogs Act but in this case they want to neuter all of the press.”
Mr Cathcart responded: “Bob Satchwell doesn’t address any of the matters raised in the letter.
“The Royal Charter approved by all parties in Parliament on 18 March, which is based on the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry, is good for editors, journalists and the public.
“In particular the arbitration service can bring substantial benefits all round, and there are absolutely no grounds for claims that there will be an expensive flood of claims.
“Nor does the Charter pose any threat to free expression, indeed it provides new protections against interference by politicians. The only people with anything to lose from it are those who are in the habit of abusing the power of the press.”
Passed in 1991, the Dangerous Dogs Act is regarded as a by-word for knee-jerk and ill-thought-out responses to political issues.
The Newspaper Society is highlighting the threat to local papers from the government’s plans as part of Local Newspaper Week, which is focusing on the theme of press freedom.
The NS and other industry groups have put forward an alternative Royal Charter proposal which they say is independent of politicians.