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Government thwarts Sunday Telegraph bid to publish Royal Charter human rights briefing

By Darren Boyle

The Government has refused to release official advice it has received about the legality of its new planned press regulator according to reports over the weekend.

The Sunday Telegraph claimed that officials in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will not publish a key piece advice on the Government’s Royal Charter over whether legal experts believe the plan breaches EU law.

The Sunday Telegraph applied under the Freedom of Information Act documents relating to the potential impact of the European Court of Human Rights on the Royal Charter.

According to the newspaper, the documents being hidden by the DCMS relate to advice concerning the right to freedom of expression.

The Telegraph applied in October 2013 for all documents concerning the Royal Charter that mention Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However that information has not been released.

In response to the Telegraph’s request, the DCMS admitted that while publishing the information could promote “an informed debate”, the “public interest in favour of maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure”.

A spokesperson said: “The Royal Charter does not make any changes at all to the way the press investigates or publishes stories. The Government does not routinely disclose legal advice. We are clear that independent self-regulation of the press is entirely consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.”

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