New Royal Charter for journalists but what about the existing one?
The Chartered Institute of Journalists is challenging the Government for failing to take into account the Institute’s own charter in creating a new press regulation body.
The CIoJ was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1890 and remains the oldest professional body for journalists in the world. It has a duty under that charter to uphold ethical and professional standards in the journalistic profession.
Institute President, Charlie Harris, said: “How can any proposal for a Royal Charter which ignores an existing charter make any sense or give the public any confidence that this is a credible way forward? To that end, we have submitted our own challenge to both the Department of Culture Media and Sport and the Privy Council.”
Among the points made by the CIoJ are that any voluntary scheme which relies on statutory coercion cannot be regarded as voluntary; that the idea of exemplary damages is unlikely to survive contact with any European Court and that there is nothing in either draft which would prevent the behaviour which led to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry in the first place.
Currently two charters have been submitted to the Privy Council – one with cross-party support (Government Charter) and another one from the Press Board of Finance (Pressbof Charter).
Mr Harris said: “The constitution of the new regulatory body has largely been framed as being between publisher and independent members and yet it is journalists who are best placed to recognise corporate wrong doing, or ethical failings and yet they are not offered a seat at the table.
“The Pressbof proposal reconstitutes the Press Complaints Commission with some tweaks which was the reason the inquiry was set up, but both charter proposals rely on statutory underpinning which the CIoJ believes flies in the face of an independent press.
“The public deserve not to be misled by disgruntled MPs and image-preening celebrities over Press regulation proposals. It is time these individuals come clean and admit that when the police do their job, there are perfectly acceptable laws that already exist to keep law-breakers, including those in journalism, in check.”
Notes to Editors:
The CIoJ’s own charter was granted by Queen Victoria and includes:-
- ‘The ascertainment of the law and practice relating to all things connected with the journalistic profession and the exercise of supervision over its members when engaged in professional duties.’
- ‘Watching any legislation affecting the discharge by Journalists of their professional duties and endeavouring to obtain amendments of the law affecting journalists, their duties or interests.’
- And: ‘Securing the advancement of Journalism in all its branches and obtaining for journalists as such formal and definite professional standing’