24 Oct 2013

Newspapers shun government’s royal charter on press regulation

The gulf between the newspaper industry and the politicians’ plans for regulating them is yawning wider than ever.

Channel 4 News can exclusively reveal that the vast majority of newspaper publishers are turning their back on the government’s plans to establish a royal charter.

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Instead they are setting up their own press standards body.

The newspapers say they are carrying out nearly all of the recommendations made by Lord Leveson in his report into press standards.

Almost a year from the publication of the Leveson report, John Witherow, editor of the Times newspaper, told me today that “we just wanted to get on with it”.

Critics say that means they’ll still be marking their own homework.

But Mr Witherow was adamant: “you can’t exclude editors from the process of setting it up – this is self-regulation, not political regulation.”

And for campaigners worried that the regulator will not be strong enough, Mr Witherow urges patience, saying he believes the new system will satisfy them that:

“a new form of regulation has now been adopted by the press that proves we take the whole Milly Dowler episode incredibly seriously.”

But professor Brian Cathcart of the Hacked Off campaign remains sceptical:

“what they do is set up a system that puts their interests ahead of the public.”

The full interview with Times editor John Witherow is below:

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