Hacked Off Seek EU Diktat to Force Through New Press Laws Watson Backs Brussels Directive on Media Ownership

After Sajid Javid signalled that he wanted to put the issue of press regulation “to bed”, Hacked Off last night called for an EU directive to force through new laws and overrule the Culture Secretary. Evan Harris and Natalie Fenton, two of the group’s directors, endorsed a new campaign aiming to secure a petition of one million signatures and seek a diktat from Brussels to set limits on media ownership at a European level.

The campaign, which has the somewhat sinister name ‘Reclaim the Media’, is backed by the Green MP Caroline Lucas, the National Union of Journalists, the Trades Union Council and Labour’s Tom Watson, who was due to chair last night’s meeting but failed to attend after he was “unavoidably detained in his constituency”Evan Harris’ face told you everything you need to know about the prospects for Hacked Off’s latest doomed venture…

Click to enlarge.

MediaGuido was particularly interested by a series of graphs provided at the meeting. Reclaim the Media’s campaign for plurality focuses on the Murdoch and Rothermere titles, despite their own evidence showing that it is actually the BBC that enjoys unrivalled dominance in the news industry. Confused Labour MP John McDonnell suggested the motives were personal: “there are thousands of asylum seekers locked up because the government is pandering to the racism of the Daily Mail”, adding that MPs were “petrified by the bucket of sh*t that The Sun pours on you”. Yet according to their own evidence it isn’t the Mail or the Sun that threaten press plurality, it is the BBC…

FT Rejects IPSO, Sets Up Own Regulator

FT editor Lionel Barber says the paper will set up its own mechanism to deal with complaints. It won’t be part of the new IPSO press regulator:

The Financial Times stands for an independent press, free of economic and political interference. We therefore support efforts to create a more robust system of independent regulation for the industry in the wake of the Leveson inquiry.

After careful consideration, the FT has decided to put in place a system which is accountable, credible, robust and highly adaptable to meet the pace of change in our industry. We believe this approach is consistent with our record of journalistic excellence and integrity, and it builds on our already strong system of governance designed to maintain the highest possible ethical standards.

The FT has established a track record for treading its own path at a time of wrenching change in the news business. We have consistently taken decisions which have marked a break with established industry practice when it is the right thing to do for our readers and business.

Our approach reflects the FT’s standing as an increasingly digital news operation with a global footprint. More than three-quarters of our readers are now outside the UK. Our main competitors are global news organisations, each of which applies its own system of independent regulation. There is no industry standard.

The FT has been a longstanding member of the Press Complaints Commission, which is due to expire shortly. Readers will therefore no longer have recourse to the PCC as an independent service for dealing with complaints. In its place, we will set up a new mechanism to handle reader complaints in the event that they feel our internal procedures fail to provide an adequate response or redress.

Two points are relevant here. First, our record at the PCC in recent years shows that in the overwhelming majority of cases the FT has been exonerated from criticism. Second, the FT is always willing to deal with complaints expeditiously and, if warranted, publish a clarification, correction or apology.

Nevertheless, we recognise that we need to provide additional reassurances in the post-PCC world. We will therefore be creating a new position of editorial complaints commissioner. The remit and reporting line will be set out in a public advertisement in due course. The successful candidate will be appointed by a three-person committee and will be independent of the editor.

In addition, the FT will continue to provide platforms for readers to comment on articles and participate in discussion with our reporters and commentators. We believe our conversation with readers around the world is important. Understanding what they need and value is vital to our success as a news organisation.

The FT will continue to engage with our peers in the industry. Every newspaper and news group must make their own choice regarding regulation. At this point, we have decided to plot our own course. We are committed to best practice and determined to uphold the high standards that have served the FT and our readers so well over the past 126 years.

Saying thanks but no thanks to Brian, the Royal Charter and IPSO…

Time For Watson to Launch Corrections and Clarifications Page

Oh the beautiful irony. Tom Watson put his X-Box down for ten minutes to have a go at Labour for playing up Ed as a strong leader like Thatcher. ‘It’s highly likely that a spin doctor, working for Ed, chose to persuade people that he really would “Govern like Thatcher”‘ he blogged. Within an hour or so it was a full reverse ferret:

“Tom Baldwin, an adviser to Ed Miliband has been in touch to say: “For the record, I didn’t mention thatcher once in all the lobby briefing around the speech. Truth is, I suspect, they got together and constructed line themselves.”

Perhaps he should have checked his facts before he mixed opinion and news? Time for a due-prominence apology, for sure.

This is not the first time Watson has cocked up like this.

Remember when he accused Guido of selling drugs to George Osborne at a rave?

Or when he had to apologise to Nick Robinson for accusing him of being a Murdoch stooge in his book?

Maybe he should add a permanent corrections and clarifications section to his website, as they’re piling up…

It’s what Brian Leveson would want…

Speccie Awards: The Results

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The 15 rebels who said no to press regulation.

Exclusive: Cops Trying to Remove Private Eye From Shops

Police are requesting “on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service” that magazine vendors refrain from selling today’s edition of Private Eye. This afternoon two plain clothes policemen asked this vendor working outside Farringdon Station to take down this week’s Eye. When the vendor, who does not wish to be named, asked them why, they said it was at the request of the CPS, specifically because of the cover featuring Rebekah Brooks. They showed identification. The vendor told the cops he would keep selling them unless they produced a court order. Chilling…

Down the road at the nearby Old Bailey potential jurors were asked if they were readers of Private Eye or Guido Fawkes during the selection process. If they answered affirmatively they were excused from jury service. Anyone else a little hacked off by all this?

UPDATE:  Index on Censorship – the free speech campaign with offices near Farringdon Station – went to check for themselves:

The judge doesn’t find Private Eye amusing:

UPDATE: 17.24 

Hacked Off Spinner Wanted

Fancy a job spinning to the very journalists your lobbyist bosses want the state to regulate? Hacked Off are looking for a new comms manager to lead their media strategy. Advertised in the Guardian naturally. Crisis management and “handling strong personalities” are required attributes for the successful candidate, who will also need to be able to put up with subbing Brian Cathcart’s blogs. Even better if you’ve got a parliamentary pass

LISTEN: Miliband Vows “Big Fight” Against Fleet Street

Scoop from the FT this morning: Miliband talked about his plan to declare war on Fleet Street at a private dinner for Labour donors. Guido has the recording, made by a Labour member:

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“Look, this fight is going to be such a big fight that we’ve got to be willing to call these people out. We’ve got to be willing to call these people out. The days when the newspapers and the news media could attack us without response are over. Because actually they are less powerful than people ever thought and they are less powerful now than they were. And it is incredibly important that we fight back against them.”

Hard to imagine a party leader talking about any other industry in terms of how it is struggling, then in the next sentence describing how he wants to “fight” them. Sure Ed will be delighted by the Eric Honecker comparison in the introduction as well…

LIBOR Media Advisory Note: Strictly Not For Publication

From the Attorney General’s Office:

Media Advisory Note: strictly not for publication
17 October 2013

Current LIBOR trials

Former Citigroup and UBS Trader Tom Hayes has been charged with eight counts of conspiracy to defraud. These charges arise from the on-going LIBOR investigation. A Plea and Case Management Hearing is listed for the 21st October at Southwark Crown Court. Two other defendants charged with LIBOR related offences, Terry Farr and James Gilmour, will also be appearing on that date.

Editors and publishers are reminded of their responsibilities under the Contempt of Court Act 1981.The Attorney General is conscious that this case will be of particular interest to City and financial journalists who may be less familiar with the law of contempt then colleagues who more regularly report on the criminal courts. The Attorney General asks that editors and publishers take steps to ensure all online and hard copy editions of their publications avoid any commentary or reporting which may pose a risk of breaching the Contempt of Court Act.

In particular, the Attorney General draws attention to the risks in publishing material that asserts or assumes, expressly or implicitly, the guilt of an accused person or that otherwise interferes with the administration of justice in this case – such as by pre-empting the decision of the trial Judge or Judges as to the evidence to be called before the jury.

Editors and publishers should take legal advice to ensure they are in a position to fully comply with the obligations they are subject to under the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

Ironically you can read the names that the Wall Street Journal were forced to pull from their website by a Court Order in the bastion of freedom that is China. They are in the print edition of the WSJ Asia Edition..

Wall Street Journal Censored by UK Judge

wsj-censored

You can read the judge’s order here. Extraordinary that we can’t report the names of alleged LIBOR fraudsters, this is against the principles of open justice and freedom of the press. Even more extraordinary is that it was the Serious Farce Office that invited the defendants to apply for reporting restrictions. The prosecuting authority encouraged the defendants to seek anonymity. Bonkers…

Royal Charter: Well That Went Well Then

A two letter response.

Via @FraserNelson.

Miller Forcing Through State Regulation of Press

Maria Miller will publish her plans for state regulation of the press on Friday after rejecting the press’ proposal to keep politicians out of the process. To be passed by October 30th. If editors say no she is threatening to go back to the original Leveson charter. Roll on Friday…

Miliband’s Forced “Decency”

If Miliband’s Mail-bashing was really about sticking up for his dad, he would not have used jarring political lines about the “cost of living crisis” in his letter to Lord Rothermere yesterday. His interview with LabourList this morning betrays the real motivation for why Miliband and Alastair Campbell, who is at the centre of this, have gone after the Mail:

“What we’ve seen over the past five days is a symptom of that and it’s time he took a long hard look at the way his papers are run because I don’t believe that reflects the values of the British people.

“I want to know how these practices are allowed to happen. Not on the basis of being “one rogue reporter” or “one rogue editor”, but what is it about the culture and practice of the organisation that makes these kind of things acceptable?

If we’re going to have those massive debates about the cost of living, we need to have proper standards of decency in our press.”

This is about Leveson, the Royal Charter and state regulation of the press. Miliband believes it is for politicians to decide whether papers “reflect the values of the British people”. Read that as whether they reflect his values. He wants to know how papers are “allowed” to print opinion that he disagrees with, that he finds offensive. That last line, “we need to have proper standards of decency in our press”, is chilling. It shows an incredible mindset from Miliband that he feels it is a politician’s place to decide what constitutes “decency” in the media. As Fraser Nelson notes, next week the Privy Council meets to discuss newspapers’ attempt to prevent state regulation of the press. Hugh Grant and Hacked Off have already tried to hijack the story. Miliband’s timing is no coincidence…

Happy World Press Freedom Day

Aside from it being a breakthrough day for UKIP and a terrible one for the other three parties, today is also United Nations World Press Freedom Day. “Celebrating the fundamental principles of press freedom” and “defending the media from attacks on their independence”, the UN warn that “in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained”.

Guido is sure the likes of Evan Harris, Hugh Grant, Max Mosley, Brian Cathcart, Steve Coogan, Tom Watson, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Oliver Letwin, Maria Miller, Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris will be celebrating…

UPDATE : Perfect timing:

You’ve Never Had It So Good

cathcartGovernment email watching ‘Snoopers Charter’: dead.

Government press regulating Royal Charter: dead.

Defamation Act 2013: Passed.

And some other good news:

“The word ‘insulting’ has been deleted from Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

And the sun is shining…

Victory: Guido’s Blog Will Remain Unregulated Government Tells Evan Harris to “Blog Off”

MAX-SAYS-CUT-THE-WIRES

blogoff

Dr Evan Harris told all who would listen that he wanted this blog to be regulated, Max Mosley wanted the government to “cut the wires” of the internet for bloggers who didn’t submit to judicial censorship and the nutty Professor Brian Cathcart who mutters about freedom of the press while trying to stamp it out didn’t really engage. Well they have completely and utterly failed in their ambitions.

The government has announced that for-profit blogs which make less than £2 million will be exempt from the new system of press regulation and there would also be an exemption for blogs with fewer than 10 employees under the amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill. Which leaves plenty of room for Guido to expand his operations…

We would not in any event have gone along with a regime that attempted to put an unbearable and unjustified regulatory burden on us. This is not to say that Guido supports the legislation, it seems pretty unfair on small newspapers who will still be regulated and it means there is not a level playing field. There will, as Guido told Leveson, be a thriving unregulated free press and a withering regulated unfree press with one hand tied behind its back. You only have to consider the Rolf Harris story revealed on this blog three months ago and only today seen on the front pages of the newspapers…

Cathcart Heckled Over Secret Hacked Off Donors

Guido has watched press hating media luvvie Brian Cathcart’s fall from his place as the darling of the regulation lobby to the masker of Hacked Off’s secretive billionaire backers with great amusement. Now Cathcart has been heckled by visitors to a literary festival demanding to know who is funding Hacked Off. After he refused to reveal the names of his donors, angry audience members shouted “answer the question!” Cathcart responded by betraying his true disdain for our newspapers:

cathcart“Our funds? It’s almost funny to be lectured on financial probity by newspapers. For example, the Telegraph, which is owned by a couple of brothers who live in a tax exile in the Channel Islands. To be lectured on probity by the Daily Mail, whose owner is, as far as I am aware, a non-dom, and the owner of The Times and The Sun, who, well, where would you start?”

Only it wasn’t the newspapers asking, but inconveniently a media ethics lecturer and members of the public. Not like Cathcart to let the facts get in the way of a bad story…

Hacked Off’s Billionaire Donor Channels More Cash

Last month Guido revealed that Hacked Off was being funded by billionaire Russian oligarchs the Lebedevs, via Simon Kellner’s ill-fated Journalism Foundation vanity project. This morning the Times confirms what Guido’s readers already knew. They report Hacked Off’s billionaire is ready to funnel more cash:

“Evgeny Lebedev, who is a personal friend of Hugh Grant, the actor and Hacked Off director, has decided that money pledged almost a year ago to a foundation he set up and then shut down should now go to the campaign… Mr Lebedev held a “gala evening” in May last year to raise money for the Journalism Foundation. The event was attended by, among others, several celebrity supporters of Hacked Off, including Grant and his former girlfriend Jemima Khan… A spokesman for Mr Lebedev said that a guest at the gala evening had pledged a donation specifically for work on strengthening public interest defences in law for journalism. A foundation source said that the donor was a male celebrity who asked for anonymity when pledging about £20,000 that he wanted to go to Hacked Off.”

Lebedev spent £600,000 on the now defunct Journalism Foundation vanity project, meaning there should be a sizeable chunk left over for Hacked Off…

Gunboat for Guido

Just a week after Guido wrote in the Sun that they’d need to send a warship to regulate this blog, his local paper reports that an US aircraft carrier is on course for Wexford. Apparently talks are taking place for the vessel to be stationed of the Irish coast this summer for the fiftieth anniversary of JFK’s visit. They’ll never take us alive…

Lords Vote on Amendments As Press Charter Unravelling

Blog OffHow bad is it for the Hacked Off drafted Royal Charter’s prospects?

  • Lebedev, the owner of The Indy, the only paper with an editor keen on the press control Royal Charter, has said it is a bad idea.
  • Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is suggesting delaying it all for a year.
  • The Economist has joined the Speccie, Staggers and Private Eye in shunning the new system.
  • Most of the big newspaper groups are looking less and less likely to go along with things as they stand.
  • Editors of local papers are livid that they will be brought into this regulatory quango when they are already under financial pressure.
  • The former campaign manager for Hacked Off has disowned the campaign –  “I wanted reform that understood the press, but some of them wanted reform that punished the press. They became more militant, more politically aggressive and I felt uncomfortable with it.”
  • Lawyers say the exemplary damages provision is in breach of Article 10 of the ECHR.
  • Bloggers from across the spectrum have united against the ill thought provisions.
  • Hacked Off now say that blog regulation was never their intention.*
  • Over the weekend there were tri-party talks to try and figure out how to exempt blogs – which Leveson never intended to regulate.

Still the political class may still ram it through the Lords this afternoon…

Lord Lucas has a sensible amendment to exempt blogs and small publishing enterprises:

LORD LUCAS

131C  At end insert— “Other publishers

9) A publisher who focuses on a specific locality or region and only reports national issues on an incidental basis that is relevant to such local or regional matters.”

131D  At end insert—  10) A publisher who operates as a non-charitable campaigning organisation and is publishing material incidental to the organisation’s aims and objectives.”

131E At end insert—  11 ) A publisher who does not exceed the definition of a small or medium- sized enterprise as defined in sections 382 and 465 of the Companies Act 2006.”

Just because the amendments are sensible and widely supported doesn’t mean they will pass…

*Evan Harris told the Open Rights Group that he wanted to see Guido regulated. Can’t imagine why…

Hacked Off Say Thanks to Secret Donors

You have to hand it to Brian Cathcart. Hacked Off’s self-styled nutty professor has summed up their secret donor dilemma in a typically self-important post this lunchtime:

“We do not regret accepting money to fund our activities from some people who did not want their donations made public.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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