Rusbridger: Royal Charters a 'medieval piece of nonsense' which have 'hideously complicated things' - Press Gazette

Rusbridger: Royal Charters a 'medieval piece of nonsense' which have 'hideously complicated things'

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has condemned the idea of Royal Charters regulating the press as a "medieval piece of nonsense". 

Speaking at a debate organised by the London Press Club entitled "Can Investigative Journalism Survive", he condemned the idea of a Royal Charter-backed press regulator. The cross-party Royal Charter on press regulation is due to go before the Privy Council at the end of this month.

Rusbridger's Guardian Media Group has also been strongly critical of the rival publishers' plan for press regulation, saying it would hand too much power to Telegraph Media Group, Associated Newspapers and News UK.

The Standard reports that Rusbridger told last night's meeting: "What journalists have to do is create something clearly independent of politicians and the press and we would get a lot of support from the public. But this medieval piece of nonsense which appeared out of the blue is the thing that has hideously complicated things.”

The cross-party Royal Charter proposes a system of regulation which could only be changed in future with a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament. Many publishers fear that this hands ultimate control of press regulation to the politicians.

If publishers ignore the Royal Charter and create a new press regulator which does not have official recognition they will be subject to punative exemplary damages in libel and privacy cases.

The final wording of the politicians' press regulation Royal Charter was published on 11 October and it is expected to go for formal assent by the Privy Council at the end of the month.

The main newspaper and magazine trade bodies have yet to reveal their official response to the final Royal Charter press regulation plan.

Note:This piece was updated at 8.50am on 24/10/2013 to reflect the fact that Rusbridger was condemning Royal Charters (plural) rather than specifically the cross-party Royal Charter agreed this month.



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.

Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette