Submission by the Campaign Against Censorship against the Press Regulation Charter (2013)
Submission by the Campaign Against Censorship
on the Proposed Charter for the Regulation of the Press,
sent out to the Media on Friday the 6th September 2013
by the Libertarian Alliance
Note to Editors: The Campaign Against Censorship and the Libertarian Alliance are separate organisations that are also on terms of close organisational friendship. Because the CAC has limited access to the Internet, the LA is sending out this Statement. All enquiries should be put by e-mail to Edward Goodman, Chair of CAC, eacgoodman. Telephone enquiries should be made to Sean Gabb, Director of the LA, on 07956 472 199, who will answer on behalf of the CAC.
The Right Honourable Mrs Maria Miller MP
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street
London SW1A 2BQ
12th August 2013
Dear Mrs Miller,
Response to press regulation proposals
The Campaign Against Censorship opposes any statutory control of the Press. None has existed in this country since 1695 and there is no justification for reintroducing it now. Other democracies have freedom of expression guaranteed in their State constitutions.
The scandals of phone hacking and leaking of information by the police are being dealt with adequately under existing criminal law. There are many prosecutions and there have been convictions resulting in imprisonment.
The victims' organisation Hacked Off is using the scandal to try to achieve privacy for celebrities through government press control. That cure is worse than the disease. The correct remedy is for Parliament to enact a proper English law defining the right to privacy. (The present right is vaguely prescribed in the Human Rights Act).
The proposed Royal Charter controlling the Press is especially dangerous because it will be promulgated by the Privy Council (i.e. the government) and not by Parliament. It will thus be a diktat that cannot be debated, drafted or amended by elected members of the legislature.
In July 2013, the largest British newspaper and magazine publishers set up the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). This is acceptable voluntary self regulation. The publishers have subscribed to a code of conduct with disciplinary sanctions. Compulsory front-page corrections, fines of one million pounds sterling and protection of whistleblower informants can be imposed on members. Smaller publishers (e.g. Private Eye and Tribune) have exercised their democratic right not to join IPSO and so will be merely subject to adequate existing law e.g. confidentiality, contempt of court, corruption, incitement, libel, official secrets, privacy and race relations. There is no need for additional, authoritarian State sanctions imposed by a Royal Charter.
The Campaign Against Censorship therefore opposes the proposed Charter and joins the other freedom of expression groups doing likewise e.g. Index on Censorship, Libertarian Alliance, National Union of Journalists and the Society for Individual Freedom.
Dr Nigel G. Meek (CAC Editor)
Campaign Against Censorship,
PO Box 570, Redhill, RH1 2WZ
The CAC is the successor to the Defence of Literature and the Arts Society founded in 1968 to assist those threatened by censorship, and to campaign for reform of censorship laws. In 1983, it was re-launched as the CAC.