Independent's Blackhurst says 'veto' removal could pave the way for acceptance of publishers' Royal Charter - Press Gazette

Independent's Blackhurst says 'veto' removal could pave the way for acceptance of publishers' Royal Charter

Independent editor Chris Blackhurst has hinted that his paper could now support the press regulation Royal Charter submitted by press owners' body Pressbof to the privy council.

Last week, publishers agreed a change to their press regulation plan which has been interpreted as ending the industry veto of appointments to the board of a new regulator.

The Lebedevs (who own the Independent and Standard titles), Guardian News and Media and the Financial Times are the only national newspaper titles yet to give their backing to the industry Royal Charter. They say they were not consulted about the industry plan and have since cited concerns about lack of independence for the proposed new regulator.

Meanwhile the Government-backed Royal Charter, agreed in a cross-party deal in March, remains on the table. 

Editor Chris Blackhurst  said ditching the 'veto' had removed his “major concern” with the industry’s Royal Charter.

“It’s a change we welcome,” he told Press Gazette.  “One of our key concerns about the press charter was that it couldn’t be seen to be independent while the veto was in place so now it’s gone that does change that view.”

Blackhurst added that he still had “some niggles” around the details of the newspaper-proposed charter and would not say whether the Independent would change its position.

He continued: “I still have a concern that not enough dialogue is taking place between the press and politicians and what I want to avoid is an all-out war over press regulation. That would be very damaging and in a way I hope this concession is taken positively by the politicians and shows the press are capable of moving.”

He added that he had discussed the new-look charter with Independent owner Evgeny Lebedev, who also welcomed lifting the 'veto'.

Writing in The Independent over the weekend, Blackhurst called the change "a significant move in the wrangling over press regulation". He continued: "The veto’s removal helps pave the way for The Independent’s acceptance of the second charter."

Representatives from the Independent and Guardian both attended last week's meeting of the Industry Implementation Group.

The Guardian said that the announcement had not changed the paper’s view.

A spokesperson for Guardian News & Media said: "The Guardian still believes that the Royal Charter process should be paused, that the industry should set up a regulator in line with Leveson criteria and that all parties involved – the press, politicians and phone-hacking victims – should sit together for the first time to discuss the few remaining areas of disagreement."

The Financial Times, which did not attend last week's publishers' meeting, declined to comment.



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