I’ve blogged about this before but, I suspect to nobody’s great surprise, the Privy Council has adopted the Royal Charter which creates a sort of half-arsed voluntary regulatory system for the press. What a dismal farce.
In reality, the fact that Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks et al are on trial at the moment demonstrates that the British media already has all the regulation it needs via the criminal law. What is really required is a thorough renovation of our defamation laws which would prevent the rich and guilty from hiding behind them and give access to ordinary people to use them against press intrusion without prohibitive costs. That isn’t going to happen. The media behaved badly in the permissive environment created by New Labour and its spin machine, which created an environment in which ‘communication’ (for which read ‘spin’) was king and mutually agreeable relationships between spinners and press had to be maintained; disgustingly, institutions like the police and the military gleefully joined in.
Now it’s all blown up, the press – who weren’t much more than facilitators – are getting it in the neck, but only the clumsiest of their establishment collaborators have been caught out: many of the rest seem to be supplying the commentary.
The reality is that press doesn’t need regulation or even self-regulation on an industry wide basis, it needs to be given the freedom to hold the establishment to account in the knowledge that if it transgresses the law, it will actually be held to account by the judicial system.
But that won’t happen.