Veteran newspaperman Sir Ray Tindle has issued a personal plea to Prime Minister David Cameron not to implement the proposed new Royal Charter on press regulation without further talks with publishers.
In a Radio broadcast yesterday. Sir Ray made a direct appeal to politicians to delay the implementation of the latest version of the Charter pending further discussions.
But despite attempts to ease concerns about some aspects of the proposals it still looks set to receive the thumbs-down from publishers who have called it “a Charter written by politicians, imposed by politicians and controlled by politicians.”
Sir Ray said yesterday: “I appeal to our leaders, please don’t proceed to the next stage with this proposed Royal Charter without talking once more with the press.
“Surely it’s better to try to agree something that will work rather than having us say, for ever more, that 300 years of freedom of the press were lost in 2013 by a charter written by politicians, imposed by politicians and controlled by politicians and devised at a meeting at which the press was not present.
“My strong plea is, please, give it more time to see if, by talking to the press again and by giving further consideration, something might emerge which might ease the present situation which appears to this local newspaperman to be both unfortunate and explosive.
“No harm can come from such a meeting. A slight delay, if that were entailed, could not make matters worse and could do a lot of good for both the participants.”
Sir Ray followed up the broadcast with a personal letter to Mr Cameron attaching the text of his on-air comments.
In it he said: “The appeal to you in my broadcast was a sincere one. Much good might come from a further discussion. No harm can possibly be done.”
The latest proposals published last Friday would enable local and regional papers to opt out of the proposed arbitration scheme on the grounds of cost, if they can show it is causing serious financial harm.
It also proposes that complainants using the arbitration scheme should be charged a small, recoverable fee in a bid to clamp down on vexatious complaints.