ARTICLE 19 urges those involved in discussions about a new form of press regulation in the UK to put political point scoring to one side and make renewed efforts to find agreement. The UK needs a free press, which is accountable, and which has won back the trust of the public. Discussions around Leveson’s recommendations have become confused in some places, which is why it has today published a review ‘Desmitifying Leveson.’
“While arguments continue about the wrapping paper, it’s vital not to be distracted from what’s inside the package. The ongoing debate about the form must not distract from content, it’s not just how a new regulator is established, but what it looks like and what it does” said Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
“Self-regulation should always be the first and preferred option, as it is the best method of ensuring that the freedom of the press is protected. It must be noted however, that the mechanism proposed by Lord Justice Leveson would not violate international freedom of expression standards” she said.
“The UK must remember that around the world, journalists and editors struggle to find an independent voice that is free from state control. If statutory underpinning is used to establish press regulation in the UK, those legislating must be absolutely clear about the fundamental principles of true independence and freedom. Repressive governments looking on must not be able to use any legislation passed in the UK as a justification to further censor their people, stifle open debate and attack democracy,” Callamard added.
ARTICLE 19 urges those involved in discussion to give proper attention to the substance of a new regulator as much as to the envelope it comes in.