An imaginative reading of the Royal Charter on UK press regulation

Francis Sedgemore, Wednesday 13 February 2013 at 14:16 UTC

Writing in The Staggers, Media Standards Trust director Martin Moore comments on the draft Royal Charter for the establishment of a new industry regulator to succeed the publishers’ luncheon club known as the Press Complaints Commission. The Media Standards Trust is the begetter of the celebrity-fronted Hacked Off lobbying group which calls for state regulation of the British press.

“The journalists conscience clause, for example, which the National Union of Journalists fought so hard for, and which Leveson recommends a new regulatory body should consider requiring, is downgraded to an optional extra.”

An NUJ activist and lay officer writes…

I have mixed feelings about the use of a Royal Charter in establishing a new regulator, but I can see no reference in the draft to either a journalists’ conscience clause or whistleblowers’ hotline. Given that the document outlines the broad terms of reference of the proposed regulator, there is no reason why it should necessarily include such detail. Moore is either making it up as he goes along, or is privy to information that he is unwilling or unable to share. Either way, his use of this cheap rhetorical trick casts doubt on his credibility.

There is much else wrong with Moore’s article, but given the falsity of the quoted statement, there is no value in discussing his many other errors. We must all, journalists included, be on our guard against the establishment of a press regulator that protects only the interests of newspaper proprietors and editors, but the cause is not served by articles such as this.

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