The Royal Charter has been granted. Despite the efforts of the press to persuade two high court judges to accept their request for an injunction, their attempt was shunned yesterday along with the industry's bid to pursue a judicial review into why the press's alternative-charter was declined by the Privy Council in favour of their new, tougher system of regulation. All in all, a sad day for the British press.
The politicians' charter gives them the power to set the terms for how the press operates in Britain, or so they think. But no one is forcing the industry to sign up to this. Instead, the Privy Council hopes that the press will change their hesitancy towards regulation by stature and sign up to their proposals after all. "They'll come round," they believe "it's in the national interest". Sadly for them though, this isn't likely to happen. The fact is that many journalists see regulation, whether self or statuary, as 'crossing the Rubicon' and an invasion into the historic traditions of the British free press. Statuary regulation conjured up by the government in the interests of the politicians? Not under our watch.
It's not just about the fact that the initial grounds for the politicians' charter were quickly drawn up at 2:30am one morning in Ed Miliband's office, swiftly resulting in problems the very next day when confusion surfaced around their intention to regulate "small blogs". It's not about that. It is about recognising that the way the press operates in Britain has already changed following Lord Leveson's report into the nature of press standards after the allegations of phone hacking within News International. Indeed, the industry largely accepted a collection of suggestions put forward by Leveson, including the threat of £1 million fines for press misconduct. Such measures already amount to the toughest form of regulation in the Western world - measures which would never be implemented in, say, the United States.
But the politicians decided it wasn't enough. Never mind that it was the wonders of investigative journalism which proved the injustice faced by former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell following the Plebgate affair, clearly the same techniques used to uncover the MPs expenses scandal hit home harder. The politicians do not and will not meet the press half way, it seems. So now, after gossiping with their Hacked Off allies, the press is faced with a new ultimatum. Should the industry sign up to a Charter which would undoubtedly restrict the nature of the British free press, or should they ignore the idea and carry on as usual? Most editors will confess that deep in their hearts, the latter is the only viable answer.