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Index on Censorship responds to party leaders’ comments in debate on Royal Charter

By Padraig Reidy / 18 March, 2013

Index logo xResponding to the party leaders’ comments in parliament today, Index on Censorship CEO Kirsty Hughes said:

“In spite of David Cameron’s claims, there can be no doubt that what has been established is statutory underpinning of the press regulator. This introduces a layer of political control that is extremely undesirable. On this sad day, Britain has abandoned a democratic principle.

“But beyond that, the Royal Charter’s loose definition of a ‘relevant publisher’ as a ‘website containing news-related material’ means blogs could be regulated under this new law as well. This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people’s web use.

“Bloggers could find themselves subject to exemplary damages in court, due to the fact that they were not part of a regulator that was not intended for them in the first place. This mess of legislation has been thrown together with alarming haste: there’s little doubt we’ll repent for a while to come.”

Also read: Statement from Index Chair Jonathan Dimbleby on behalf of Index’s board of trustees

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About Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy Padraig Reidy is a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.

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11 Responses to Index on Censorship responds to party leaders’ comments in debate on Royal Charter

  1. Pingback: Liberal Heroes of the Week #32: Index on Censorship & Jonathan Dimbleby. (The Villains are Cameron, Clegg and Miliband) | CentreForum Blog

  2. Paul Wilson Reply

    20 March at 14:34

    Wordsworth said it well. Milton, after all, was England’s most eloquent opponent of press regulation. Britain needs another “Areopagitica.”

    London, 1802

    MILTON! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
    England hath need of thee: she is a fen
    Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
    Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
    Have forfeited their ancient English dower
    Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
    O raise us up, return to us again,
    And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power!
    Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
    Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
    Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
    So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
    In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
    The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

  3. Harry Whitehouse Reply

    19 March at 16:20

    In 50 years, will a new, more enlightened generation look back on this as our McCarthy episode?

  4. Michael J Freeman Reply

    19 March at 13:04

    Since Wikileaks the US and UK governments have lost a lot of credibility and they are desperate to restore things as they used to be because secrecy was the basis of their power.

  5. Pingback: Pressregleringen | Pressyltaredux

  6. Steve Foulger Reply

    19 March at 12:34

    “Who are we to judge the government”? asks KPOM – Well we are the descendants of the people who for centuries have struggled to keep the press out of the control of the state – from the pillory and the Tower of London, through the dungeons of autocratic rulers, via the state sponsored murder of journalists and the promoters of D-notices, banning orders and state harassment. Maybe I am over dramatizing the situation, of course we will be safe in the bosom of the state, after all they have never lied to us or covered (sexed) anything thing up have they? The institution of political control over the press, however well intentioned, is still a step that should not have been taken and one that has the potential to cause great problems in the future. Not least is the fact that this government can never again criticise other, more repressive states, for doing what we have done.

  7. Pingback: Press regulation – after a bad party comes the hangover - Lewisham NUJ | Lewisham NUJ

  8. Pingback: Francis Sedgemore - Press regulation – after a bad party comes the hangover

  9. KPOM Reply

    19 March at 03:45

    Come on. “Progressives” like the editorial boards at the Guardian and Independent are downright giddy about these new regulations, and so are most of their readership. Supporters of the “free press” just want corporate rule over all. Society is best when the government is there to protect us from the press. After all, who are we to judge the government. It’s better to give up a little liberty to purchase safety sometimes.

  10. Over Here Reply

    18 March at 23:24

    An arrogant and irresponsible press is being taken to task at long last, and panic-stricken abusers and their apologists are getting hysterical over some constraints on their indulgent rowdiness.

    The corporate press has never acted in my interest, and with the passage of a reform act I will have lost not one iota of freedom to speak. In fact, I will have gained some incalculable freedoms: freedom from press bullying; freedom from salacious and degrading stories dominating the news; freedom from mendacious or distorted reporting on behalf of vested interests.

    British editors and proprietors forget that it is free-world news organisations that maintain the highest standards of journalism and professional practice. We don’t see the best US papers abusing free speech in order to keep market share. But the majority of British press companies are using ‘free speech’ as an excuse for their abuses. That tells me we can do without the 3rd, 4th and nth-rate papers who hide behind such excuses.

    I am happy to see the end of a ‘free press’, partly because it has no effect on my freedom of speech. The ‘freedom’ of self-interested 5th estaters is of no value to me. They are just another corporate entity promoting their own interests rather than those of the public.

    The abusive press corps has shown they are incapable of maintaining the kind of standards we need, so good riddance to them.

  11. Andy Something Reply

    18 March at 21:23

    Only a fool would have come up with regulations like this, but no-one is being named – are they so ashamed of their attempt to “regulate” the web (which everyone knows will be ignored) that they won’t put their names to it?

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