I am glad that the Privy Council rejected the industry’s proposals for self-regulation, because it is essential that the new press watchdog is independent of both government and the newspaper industry. The Privy Council Committee have taken a hard look at the proposals from the press, following the normal and proper processes, and found that they are not sufficient. For example, they are unable to comply with the fundamental principles of independence and access to arbitration.
Instead, the proposals agreed by all parties in parliament in May offer the right balance between protecting our free press, ensuring independence and allowing redress for individuals. It has taken five months to finalise the Charter and the delays have been frustrating. I recognise however that we had to both follow correct procedure and ensure that the Charter was workable. You can see a copy here. Some important improvements since May have been made, such as ensuring that it applies in Scotland, addressing local press concerns about access to arbitration, and making sure that the Editors’ Code is overseen by an independent body, rather than newspaper editors themselves.
The Charter was finally approved at a special meeting of the Privy Council on 30th October. I am therefore delighted that we have finally secured this independent, robust and fair system, which the public had so strongly called for.