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  1. Media Law
March 18, 2014

John Pilger, Will Hutton, Bob Geldof and Danny Boyle among 200 leading figures urging press to back Royal Charter

By Dominic Ponsford

More than 200 leading UK cultural figures have now signed a declaration urging UK press owners to embrace the cross-party Royal Charter on press regulation.
They include prominent journalists such as John Pilger and former Observer editor Will Hutton, author Philip Pullman, musician Bob Geldof and filmmaker Danny Boyle.
They join a list of 100 leading figures who previously signed the declaration in November which include Guardian journalist Nick Davies and former Sun editor David Yelland.

The cross-party Royal Charter sets out the criteria for an independent system of press regulation which is underpinned by legislation which means the system can only be changed with a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament. An amendment to the Crime and Courts Act means that publishers which aren’t part of this Government-backed system risk exemplary damages in libel and privact cases.

Most major newspaper and magazine publishers have rejected this system and instead signed up to the Independent Press Standards Organisation – a new self regulator which is set to launch in May and retains an element of control for the press owners.

The declaration in support of the Royal Charter has been organised by Hacked Off to mark the first anniversary of it being drafted.

Full-page adverts have appeared in a number of national newspapers and magazines to back up the charter.

Supporters include Gery McCann: “Given the strong public support for Leveson it is not a surprise that all these eminent writers, film-makers, investigative journalists and other leading figures from the creative industries, are backing it. But it is very gratifying that they are prepared to stand publicly with the victims of press abuse and call on the newspapers to comply with the Royal charter."

Author Ian McEwan: "The right to freedom of expression is the bedrock of our liberty. Without it, none of our other cherished rights could have been talked or written into existence. But no freedom is absolute and all rights carry responsibilities.

“Freedom of expression is not the freedom to bully, to intimidate, to intrude where there is no public interest, or to corrupt public bodies with secret bungs. Leveson, rather like a good, hard-working journalist, exposed many such abuses in the press.

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“The abusers, who are a mighty and self-interested faction, prefer business as usual. But those who value free-thinking and open political process know that bullies and corrupters must be held to account. We urgently need wise and plausible regulation."

Author Michael Frayn: “I signed because I believe in both the right to free speech and the right to proper independent redress when that right is abused.  Conflicting rights are difficult to reconcile, and the only hope through the rule of law.”

Comedian John Cleese: “The big newspaper bosses are lying though their teeth about the Leveson recommendations.They say their freedom is being  threatened, but when anyone points out what self-serving rubbish this is, they ignore these arguments and instead attack the people who are trying to get the truth heard. Their unscrupulousness is breath-taking.”

Here is the list of names backing the Declaration of Support of the Royal Charter on press regulation:

Alan Bennett – Writer

Alan Hollinghurst – Author

Albert Scardino – Journalist

Alfonso Cuaron – Filmmaker

Andrew Gamble – Academic

Angus Macqueen – filmmaker

Anna Van Heeswijk – Women’s group

Anthony Seldon – Historian

Antony Beevor – Historian

Artemis Cooper – Writer

Baroness Beeban Kidron – Filmmaker

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC – Human rights campaigner

Baroness Onora O’Neill – Philosopher

Baroness Sheila Hollins – Parliamentarian and mother of Abigail Witchells

Baroness Valentine – Third sector

Bella Freud – Designer

Ben Elton – Comedian and author

Benedict Cumberbatch – Actor

Bianca Jagger – Campaigner

Bill Forsyth – Filmmaker

Bob Geldof KBE – Musician and campaigner

Brian Paddick – Victim of press abuse

Brian Woods – filmmaker

Bryan Adams – Musician

Carolyn Fairbairn – Businessperson

Catherine Smadja – Free speech

Christopher Eccleston – Actor

Christopher Jefferies – Victim of press abuse

Claire Tomalin – Writer

Clare Balding – Broadcaster

Craig Raine – Poet

Dame AS Byatt – Author

Danny Boyle – Filmmaker

David Baddiel – Comedian

David Gilmour – Musician

David Heyman – Filmmaker

David Mitchell – Author

David Tennant – Actor

David Yelland – Editor (recovering)

Dawn French – Comedian

Dennis Stevenson – Philanthropist

Dr Madeleine Coy – Academic

Dr Tim Markham – Academic

Edward Benthall – Finance

Edward Bowles – Father of Sebastian

Emma Thompson – Screenwriter & actress

Eric Idle – Comedian

Graham Norton – Broadcaster

Guy Chambers – Record producer

Guy Ritchie – filmmaker

Helen Belcher – LBGT Group

Helen Fielding – Author

HJK – Victim of press abuse

Hugh Grant – Actor

Ian McEwan – Author

Imran Khan – Human rights campaigner

Irvine Welsh – Writer

J K Rowling – Author

Jacqui Hames – Victim of press abuse

Jake & Dinos Chapman – Artist

Jake Arnott – Author

James Blunt – Musician

James Fox – Writer

Jane Winter – Victim of press abuse

Jeanette Winterson – Writer

Jemima Khan – Journalist

Jeremy King – Entrepreneur

Jo Brand – Comedian

Joan Smith – Journalist

Joanna Lumley – Actor and campaigner

John Bishop – Comedian

John Bowers QC – Law

John Cleese – Comedian and writer

John Finneman – Comedian

John Pilger – Journalist

John Willis – Filmmaker

Julian Mitchell – Author

Karen Ingala Smith – Women’s group

Kate & Gerry McCann – Victims of press abuse

Katie Hickman – Writer

Kazuo Ishiguro – Author

Krish Majumdar – filmmaker

Lee Hall – Writer

Lisa Appignanesi -Writer

Lord Peter Goldsmith – Law

Lord Puttnam – Filmmaker

Lord V.S. Naipaul – Author

Louis de Bernieres – Author

Maggie Smith – Actress

Marcus Brigstocke – Comedian

Margaret & Jim Watson – Bereaved parents and victims of press abuse

Margaret Aspinall -Hillsborough Campaigner

Mark Lewis – Law

Michael Apted – Filmmaker

Michael Frayn – Author

Michael Mansfield QC – Human rights lawyer

Michael Mansfield QC – Law

Michael Ondaatje – Writer

Michael Palin – Comedian & broadcaster

Mike Leigh – Filmmaker

Miranda Hart – Comedian and author

Mo George – Victim of press abuse

Monica Ali – Author

Neal Ascherson – Journalist

Nick Davies – Freelance journalist

Nicolas Kent – Theatre director

Nigel Newton – Publisher

Paloma Faith – Musician

Pat Loughrey – University Warden

Patricia & Phil Bernal – Co-Founder of Protection against Stalking and mother of Clare Bernal

Paul Dadge – Victim of press abuse

Peter Burden – Author

Peter Capaldi – Actor

Peter Jukes – Journalist

Peter Kosminsky – Filmmaker

Peter Morgan – Writer

Peter Tatchell – Human rights campaigner

Philip Pullman – Author

Polly Sansom – Author

Polly Toynbee – Journalist

Prof Alastair Mullis – Academic

Prof Anthony Smith – Broadcaster & academic

Prof Chris Frost – Academic

Prof Colin Blakemore – Scientist

Prof Conor Gearty – Human rights lawyer

Prof David Hutchison – Computer scientist

Prof David Nutt – Scientist

Prof Frank Webster – Academic

Prof Gavin Phillipson – Lawyer and academic

Prof Graham Murdock – Academic

Prof Greg Philo – Academic

Prof Ian Hargreaves – Academic

Prof Ivor Gaber – Academic

Prof James Curran – Academic

Prof Jean Seaton – Academic

Prof John Corner – Academic

Prof John Tulloch – Victim of press abuse

Prof Joni Lovenduski – Academic

Prof Julian Petley – Academic

Prof Justin Lewis – Academic

Prof Kevin Marsh – Journalist

Prof Máire Messenger Davies – Academic

Prof Matthew Flinders – Academic

Prof Natalie Fenton – Academic

Prof Richard Dawkins – Author

Prof Steven Barnett – Academic

Prof Stuart Allan – Scientist

Prof Suzanne Franks – Academic

Rich Peppiatt – Comedian

Richard Branson – Entrepreneur

Richard Charkin – Publisher

Richard Curtis – Filmmaker

Richard Horton – Nightjack blogger

Riz Ahmed – Actor

Robert Llewellyn – Actor

Roger Graef – Filmmaker

Rory Bremner – Comedian

Rose Unlacke – Designer

Rowan Williams – Former Archbishop

Rt Rev Stephen Platten – Bishop of Wakefield

Rufus Hound – Comedian

Russell Brand – Comedian

Salman Rushdie – Author

Sam Mendes – Filmmaker

Sandi Toksvig – Broadcaster

Sandy Naime – Museum Director & Writer

Sarah Green – Women’s group

Sean Mathias – Theatre director

Sean Sutcliffe – Entrepreneur

Sebastian Conran – Industrial Designer

Sigrid Rausing – Publisher

Sir Alan Ayckbourn – Playwright

Sir Alan Parker – Filmmaker

Sir Anthony Salz – Law

Sir Cyril Chantler – Doctor

Sir David Attenborough – Broadcaster and naturalist

Sir David Hare – Playwright

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC – Human rights campaigner

Sir Ian McKellan – Actor

Sir Jonathan Miller – Writer

Sir Michael Holroyd – Biographer

Sir Nicholas Hytner – Theatre Director

Sir Ranulph Fiennes – Writer and explorer

Sir Simon Rattle – Conductor

Sir Simon Robertson – Business

Sir Stephen Sedley – Jurist

Sir Tim Smit – Environmentalist

Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett – Philanthropist

Sir Tom Stoppard – Playright

Sophie Bennett – Feminist campaigner

Stephen Daldry – Film and theatre director

Stephen Frears – Filmmaker

Stephen Fry – Writer and broadcaster

Steve Coogan – Comedian and writer

Sue Roberts – Hillsborough Campaigner

Sue Stapely – Law

Susana Giner – Youth group

Tamsin Allen – Law

Terence Conran – Designer

Terrence Tehranian – Entrepreneur

Terry Gilliam – Filmmaker

Terry Jones – Comedian and filmmaker

Tim Smit – Environmentalist

Tony Robinson – Actor & Broadcaster

Victoria Wood – Writer & comedian

Will Hutton – Journalist & former editor

William Boyd – Author

William Sieghart – Publisher

Willy Russell – Playwright

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – Journalist

Zoe Margolis – Victim of press abuse

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