Index on Censorship today responded to proposals put forward by the Conservative party to establish a press regulator via Royal Charter.
Index Chief Executive Kirsty Hughes commented:
“The Conservatives’ complex proposal contains much to recommend it, not least the suggestion of a fair, quick and inexpensive arbitration process for legal claims, and the exclusion of serving editors and members of the government from the regulatory board.
“There is also recognition of the importance of freedom of speech, the public interest, and the protection of sources.
“But while there is an attempt to set a very high bar for political interference, the fact that the Royal Charter is given legitimacy by the Privy Council and Parliament does mean that this cannot be described as strong self-regulation, the status which best guarantees press freedom.
“There also remains a question over exemplary damages for those who do not sign up to the regulator, and the increasingly vexed problem of what exactly constitutes a news publisher in the age of citizen journalism, blogging and social media.”
The proposals come in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry and report on the culture, practices and ethics of the UK press.