Newspapers says Royal Charter is 'dark day' for freedom
Approval of new system of press regulation was 'judicial farce' ending '300 years of freedom'
A ROYAL charter for the regulation of the press that was drawn up by politicians and approved by the Privy Council yesterday has "signed away 300 years of press freedom", the Daily Mirror says.
The Queen put her signature on the new system of press regulation last night after a last-ditch attempt by newspapers to halt the process failed in the High Court.
But the issue is far from resolved, says an editorial in the Mirror. "The decision leaves the politicians and the industry facing a bitter stand off, with many papers saying they will refuse to join the government's system of regulation."
Most newspapers expressed their disgust at the way the Royal Charter was approved this morning, although some were more incensed than others and a handful made no comment at all.
For the Daily Mail, one of the most vociferous opponents of the new system of regulation drafted by MPs, it was "a judicial farce and a dark day for freedom".
In an editorial, the paper said the system approved by the Privy Council is "emphatically" not the "voluntary, independent, self-regulation proposed by Lord Justice Leveson". Instead, the new system "will give politicians the final say on what may and may not be printed".
Incredibly, says the Mail, it opens the way for "punitive legal costs to be awarded against papers cleared of all wrongdoing in libel actions".
The Sun reserved most of its scorn for the way the Royal Charter was "rubber-stamped" behind closed doors. "Britain has become a nation in which justice operates in secret," it said in an editorial. "Like a thief in the night."
The threat of press censorship under the terms of the Royal Charter is very real, warns the Daily Telegraph. If Parliament can find the numbers to impose a Royal Charter upon the industry, "it can also find the numbers necessary to censor it".
The Telegraph says it is "not surprising" publishers have refused to endorse the Royal Charter and vows, "we will continue to fight".
Guardian media blogger Roy Greenslade notes that three newspapers that have "stood back" from the media's post-Leveson activities – the Financial Times, The Independent and The Guardian – refrained from commenting today on the signing of the Charter.
However, in an editorial published on Monday, the Guardian made it clear that it opposed the use of "a medieval instrument" to regulate the press. ·