Furious newspaper publishers are considering an urgent appeal after the High Court rejected their bid to block a new cross-party royal charter to regulate the press.
Two judges dismissed their application to seek judicial review of what they described as the Privy Council's "unfair, irrational and unlawful" decision to reject the newspaper industry's own proposals for a rival charter.
Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mr Justice Sales, said the merits of their legal case were "at best weak".
In this photo illustration a selection of UK national newspapers are displayed together on October 30
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The judges, sitting at London's High Court, also refused the publishers an application for an injunction to stop ministers going to the Privy Council this afternoon with plans to seek the Queen's approval for the cross-party charter, which is bitterly opposed by much of the industry.
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Lawyers for the publishers said they were considering taking their case to the Court of Appeal this afternoon - to beat the 5.30pm deadline when the Privy Council is due to meet.
Lord Justice Richards said he did not accept that the procedure adopted by the Privy Council could have unfairly prevented the Press Standards Board of Finance from putting the industry's case case for its rival charter forward.
The judge said: "It is simply that the considerations telling against the proposal were such as, in my view, to make it inconceivable that anything additional the claimant had to say would have made any difference."
Ruling that the balance came down firmly against granting an interim injunction, he said there was a strong public interest in allowing the Privy Council to proceed to consider the Government's proposed charter for which there was cross-party support and which had been endorsed by Parliament.
A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the court's ruling cleared the way for the implementation of the cross-party charter.
"Both the industry and the Government agree self-regulation of the press is the way forward and we both agree that a royal charter is the best framework for that," the spokesman said.
"We are clear the process for considering the industry royal charter was robust and fair and the courts have agreed. We can now get on with implementing the cross-party charter.
"A royal charter will protect freedom of the press whilst offering real redress when mistakes are made. Importantly, it is the best way of resisting full statutory regulation.
"We will continue to work with the industry, as we always have, and recent changes to arbitration, the standards code and the parliamentary lock will ensure the system is workable."