Union condemns government for ignoring journalists and cosying up to newspaper publishers
Government plans for a royal charter to lay down conditions for a press regulator have already been condemned by the union as an attempt to undermine the Leveson report. The union says the clear attempt by the government to exclude journalists, press victims and the public from playing any part in future regulation will doom it to the same ineffectiveness as the Press Complaints Commission before it.
The newspaper owners have also come under attack for not involving journalists in their secret talks with government. The Labour Party’s deputy leader Harriet Harman recently wrote to Lord Hunt Chair of the PCC to express her concern about the attempts by publishers to exclude journalists.
Lord Leveson’s report made it clear that the new regulator and its code committee should not be limited solely to editors and should include journalists and more members of the public. The publishers are lobbying hard to ensure only they and editors are represented on the new body.
The union is concerned that secret backdoor deals between government ministers and newspaper owners, with the most to gain from weak regulation, are working together to offer parliament a regulator heavily controlled by the publishers that will ignore a number of the recommendations Leveson called for that have been widely welcomed.
Professor Chris Frost, NUJ Ethics Council chair, said: “Newspaper owners have used their papers to present Leveson’s recommendations as an attempt at statutory control of free speech – but this is complete nonsense and a dangerous lie. The report calls for a free press responsible to an independent self-regulatory body with wide representation including journalists and the public.”
The union accuses Prime Minister David Cameron of going back on his promises made to the Leveson Inquiry to support a regulator that covered all the press and to support protections for journalists.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet: “This is more evidence that we cannot trust David Cameron – we already knew we couldn’t trust the newspaper publishers. They have gone back on their promises to pick up the Leveson recommendations, generally seen as moderate and proportionate, and have conspired together to offer a solution that ignores journalists, excludes the public and the victims of phone hacking and serves only the interests of publishers. Journalists want a vibrant lively newspaper industry; this dirty deal will never lead to that.”
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