Press regulation charter approved by Queen after Court of Appeal rejects newspapers’ attempts to block its sanction

By Sam Churney

A royal charter representing a landmark reform of press regulation was approved by the Queen on 30 October 2013. The charter, agreed by the three main political parties, was sealed by the Privy Council in a short private ceremony at Buckingham Palace hours after the Court of Appeal rejected a last-minute legal effort by newspaper groups to block it. The charter aims to establish a new framework for independent press regulation, following the recent phone-hacking scandal and Lord Justice Leveson’s subsequent report that condemned newspapers for wreaking ‘havoc in the lives of innocent people’. The new system of regulation set out in the charter is voluntary and media organisations will be free to choose whether to sign up to it or not.

On 30 October 2013, the four trade bodies representing newspapers and magazines currently regulated by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) applied for an interim injunction ahead of the Privy Council’s meeting to stop the charter being sealed. However, the High Court refused the publishers’ application for the injunction as well as their application for a judicial review of the Privy Council’s decision on 8 October 2013 rejecting the industry’s own alternative charter. This was dismissed on the grounds that the alternative charter failed to comply with particular principles arising from the Leveson report, including access to arbitration and independence. Following the High Court’s refusal, the publishers made a last-ditch attempt and took the case to the Court of Appeal to get the High Court rulings overturned. However, the Court of Appeal refused to grant an interim order…

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