Appeal judge rejects 'fanciful' challenge from publishers to press regulation Royal Charter

Press publishers have lost their bid to continue a legal battle over the rejection of their version of a Royal Charter to govern the regulation of the press.

A senior judge in the Court of Appeal in London today rejected applications brought by newspaper industry body Pressbof for the go-ahead to take its case further in the courts.

Acting on the advice of the Government, the Privy Council granted a charter last October in a form favoured by the three main political parties.

Pressbof argued in the Court of Appeal yesterday that the decision to reject its rival charter was unfair and unlawful.

But today Lord Justice Maurice Kay, vice-president of the appeal court's civil division, ruled that the process was "not unfair or even arguably so".

High Court judges had previously ruled that the Pressbof case was "unarguable".

The judge said that for the press industry to say it was denied the opportunity to put in a charter that would meet the necessary criteria was "fanciful".

The Government has insisted the cross-party charter offers the press the best alternative to a system of full statutory regulation.

Some publications have made it clear they will refuse to sign up to a system underpinned by a politicians' charter.

Earlier this week, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the new press regulatory body backed by almost all national newspapers to succeed the criticised Press Complaints Commission, named Sir Alan Moses – an appeal court judge – as its first chairman.

Press reform campaign group Hacked Off, which supports the cross-party charter, said Sir Alan's appointment "changes nothing" and described IPSO as a "dreadful insult" to victims of press intrusion.

Separate judicial review proceedings launched by Pressbof which directly challenge the legality of the cross-party charter have been on hold pending today's ruling.

The judge heard that Pressbof will consider its position in relation to that action over the next seven days.

If Pressbof's legal challenges fail, publishers who sign up to IPSO look likely to be subect to the threat of punitive costs in libel and privacy cases. This is because IPSO, as it stands, does not comply with the detail of the cross-party press regulation Royal Charter.

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