Newspaper industry launches judicial review to derail Government Royal Charter plan

The newspaper industry today filed papers in the High Court seeking a judicial review of the Privy Council’s decision to reject PressBof’s new planned regulator.

The move – just 48 hours before the Privy Council was set to rubber-stamp the Government’s own plan – had been widely known in advance.

The legal bid is being brought by The Newspaper Publishers Association, the Newspaper Society, the Scottish Newspaper Society and the Professional Publishers Association.

The four representatives bodies are bringing the legal action through the Press Standards Board of Finance – Pressbof – who tabled the original Royal Charter proposal.

The legal action claims that the Privy Council had acted in a fashion that “was wholly unfair, irrational and unlawful”.

The newspaper industry complains that the Privy Council was not fair and transparent when it considered its application.

A spokesperson said: “Given the gravity of these constitutional issues, the industry's lawyers asked the Privy Council on Friday to give an undertaking that the rival cross-party Royal Charter, written by politicians and the Hacked Off lobby group, would not be presented to the Queen for sealing on Wednesday. That request has been refused and an injunction will now be sought.”

Click here to see the entire submission. 

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander yesterday ruled out any compromise between the Government and the newspaper industry. 

He told Andrew Marr on BBC 1: "We are now going to take the charter to the Privy Council, have that charter agreed and go forward from there."

Meanwhile the Department of Media, Culture and Sport issued a consciliatory line on the plan to introduce a self-regulatory system while criticising the planned legal action. 

“The Industry Royal Charter was considered in an entirely proper and fair way by the Privy Council Committee and the reasons they were unable to recommend its grant are in the public domain.  Whilst they found acceptable areas, they identified fundamental issues that were not compatible with the Leveson principles such as a lack of independence around appointments and funding and no requirement to provide an arbitration scheme. 

“The Government is working to bring in a system of independent press self-regulation that will protect press freedom while offering real redress when mistakes are made.  The Culture Secretary pushed hard for recent changes on arbitration and the standards code to be made, which will ensure the system is workable and legal action is particularly disappointing in light of these changes.”

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