“As Chair of Index on Censorship, I have to report that the Index board of trustees – who all occupy senior positions in roles both within and outside of the media — is dismayed at the course of developments that have been taken in establishing a new press regulator.
The board has the gravest anxiety at the residual political powers the now expected outcome and system will give to politicians. The two-thirds block on any changes to the royal charter could be abused in the future — not least when today’s emerging consensus shows that the parties can come together in both houses to agree on press regulation.”
Earlier today, Index on Censorship CEO Kirsty Hughes called the (emerging) deal on press regulation a “sad day for press freedom in the UK”. She said that “Index is against the introduction of a Royal Charter that determines the details of establishing a press regulator in the UK — the involvement of politicians undermines the fundamental principle that the press holds politicians to account. Politicians have now stepped in as ringmaster and our democracy is tarnished as a result.
She also said:
“Requiring a two third majority from both Houses for future changes in the Royal Charter introduces political involvement for all time into press regulation in the UK. It is a bleak moment for the UK’s international reputation as a country where press freedom is cherished as a fundamental principle and right.
The fact that this requirement is now being applied to all Royal Charters is a rushed and fudged attempt to pretend this is not just a press law; it resembles precisely the kind of political manoeuvring we see in Hungary today – where the government is amending its own constitution through a parliamentary vote undermining key principles of their democracy.