Friday, 1 November 2013

Quotes of the Week: From Royal Charter to PM's warning to the press on secrets and Jeremy Clarkson detects a paparazzo in the bushes

Adams cartoon from the Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph in a leader: "The Guardian’s recent investigation into state spying is exactly the kind of reporting that could spark a moral panic among politicians and give them cause to limit what the press can publish. If Parliament can find the numbers to impose a royal charter upon the industry, it can also find the numbers necessary to censor it."

The Times in a leader:  "A recognition body that nobody recognises. A system of voluntary regulation without volunteers. That is the shambles to which the regulation of the British press descended last night when the High Court refused an application from publishers for a judicial review of the rejection of the press’s proposals for oversight of self-regulation."

Publishers joint statement after injunction against Royal Charter rejected by High Court: "We are deeply disappointed with this decision, which denies the newspaper and magazine industry the right properly to make their case that the Privy Council's decision to reject their charter was unfair and unlawful. This is a vital constitutional issue and we will be taking our case for judicial review - of the Privy Council's decisions on both the industry charter and the cross-party charter - to the Court of Appeal."

David Cameron, as reported by Press Gazette: "The approach we have taken is to try to talk to the press and explain how damaging some of these things can be and that is why The Guardian did actually destroy some of the information and discs that they have but they've now gone on and printed further material which is damaging. I don't want to have to use injunctions or D notices or the other tougher measures. I think it's much better to appeal to newspapers' sense of social responsibility. But if they don't demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for Government to stand back and not to act."

The Guardian in a leader: "Around the world there is dismay and mystification at what has been happening to the press in Britain. How did the phone-hacking scandal continue for so long without scrutiny? Why is there no public interest defence available to journalists, whether tabloid or broadsheet, across the law? Why is the British press – often good on civil liberties – collectively arguing that journalists have no right to question the activities or words of intelligence agencies – a doctrine that is an anathema to editors elsewhere in the world? And how on earth is the country that did so much to create the idea of a free press on the verge of using a medieval instrument to help regulate it?"

Nick Cohen on his Spectator blog: "For liberal Britain has its own version of the false consciousness theory. In this instance, the left blames the failure of the masses to embrace its ideas on the malign influence of Murdoch and Dacre. If attacking freedom of the press will help their cause, they will do it. The left wants right wing journalists silenced, the right want left wing journalists silenced, and everybody wants to tell the BBC what it can and can’t broadcast."

The Mail in a leader: "All that’s certain is that yesterday’s judicial farce (which many will be forgiven for thinking was an Establishment stitch-up) has deeply worrying implications for free expression and democracy."

Tom Bower in The Mirror: "The new law offers 'voluntary' self-regulation which is anything but voluntary. Like Don Corleone, the politicians are saying, 'I’m making you an offer you can’t refuse.'
Government-approved regulators will be allowed to dictate the content of newspapers, allow endless frivolous arbitration financed entirely by the press, and punish those unwilling to obey parliament by imposing damages so punitive as to destroy even the most profitable news­papers – even if they defeat a claimant in court. A 'chill factor' would then inhibit publication out of fear of the costs."

Police whistleblower Irene Brown in the Daily Mail: "A fair society has a strong Press. One of the most important roles of newspapers is to be that watchdog exposing hypocrisy.If people don’t have the courage to tell them about it, then it’s naturally silencing journalists too."

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps in the Sunday Telegraph on the BBC: “I do think there is, possibly with the particular journalist [Mark Easton], but also there is an editorial question for the BBC about applying fairness in both directions. That also is a question of credibility for the organisation.”

Greg Dyke on Shapps' BBC attack, the Andrew Marr Show: "This is an attempt to pressurise and intimidate the BBC, which is what governments do, and it is the BBC's job is to resist. You can't let politicians define impartiality."

The Sentinel, Stoke, on Port Vale Football Club banning Sentinel journalists from its press box and asked the paper to pay £10,000 for access: "The attempt to force The Sentinel to pay for access to the Press Box and Press conferences is a bizarre new development. But, with regard to the ban on our staff, we've been here before, of course. Previous Vale chairmen have banned The Sentinel for a variety of perceived slights and injustices – only to eventually allow our reporters and photographers back in. What they failed to grasp is that this newspaper has been covering Port Vale since the club came into being and will be covering it longer after they have handed the reins on to another steward." 

Freedom of Information campaigners in an open letter to David Cameron: "We find it difficult to reconcile your ambition that the UK should be the world leader in openness with the government’s proposals to restrict the FOI Act, which is a critical element of the UK’s openness arrangements."

Mr Justice Saunders on this week's Private Eye cover: “A joke in exceptionally bad taste.” 

Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times [£]: "Mercedes says the equipment is so sophisticated, it can tell the difference between a person and an animal. But this isn’t so. Because when I reached my London flat late last Sunday night, the camera detected what it thought was a human hiding in the bushes, and a little red square highlighted his exact position. I could see nothing with the naked eye, so I drove over to find it was a paparazzo. Not a human at all."

[£] = paywall

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