Victims of press intrusion have accused the Guardian of surrendering to newspaper editors and owners after the paper backed the appointment of Lord Grade as a mediator in negotiations over press regulation.
In a letter to the Guardian, the group of ten victims, supported by Hacked Off, have urged the paper to stand behind the draft Royal Charter agreed by the three main political parties in March.
The letter followed the suggestion, from Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, that Grade could act as a mediator in further talks to bridge the gap between the three-party proposal and a rival charter put forward by the newspaper industry.
The Guardian had not signed up to the alternative Pressbof-backed charter but, in an editorial yesterday, it supported the plan to appoint former BBC chairman Grade to a mediation role.
Hacked Off instantly rejected the proposal, saying that a deal had been agreed in Westminster and there was no merit in re-opening talks on the basis of the Pressbof plan.
In the letter, the group said: “It is baffling and disappointing to us, as people who have suffered some of the worst press abuses of recent years that the Guardian suddenly appears ready to surrender to the manipulations of press corporations responsible for many of those abuses.”
It added that the Government charter was based on recommendations from the Leveson inquiry “and backed by public opinion”.
The letter urged the Guardian not to help rival newspapers to create a delay in implementing a new regulatory regime as it would “play directly into their hands”.
It continued: “The surest consequence of the delay you propose will (be) the kind of shady fix we have seen so many times before, and so we will be left with another sham self-regulator no better than the Press Complaints Commission.
"Please don't allow this to happen. The judge has spoken, parliament has spoken and the polls indicate that your readers favour a Leveson-based outcome. Don't lose your nerve now."
Among those signing the letter were Christopher Jefferies, who was wrongly linked to the murder of Joanna Yeates, football agent Sky Andrew and former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames.