Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Press regulation ~ a legal challenge fails

Today, the High Court rejected a challenge by the Press Standards Board of Finance (PressBof) which was aimed at preventing the Privy Council approving the Royal Charter of Self Regulation of the Press - The Independent 30th October

Richard Gordon QC, representing PressBof, told the court that PressBof had not been given notice of a period of openness in which it could have made representation in support of its charter and that it was not provided with information on the process and the criteria on which its document would be judged.  “This process, we say, was conspicuously unfair,” he told the court. “It’s almost Kafkaesque in terms of not knowing what the next step is intended to be.”

Nathalie Lieven QC, representing the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, the Culture Secretary, said: “There simply is no arguable case here that could possibly justify the granting of an injunction.”

The detailed Statement of Facts and Grounds for the challenge are available - HERE.  (In itself, this is a useful document for those interested in the process of judicial review and the grounds on which a challenge can be based - e.g. duty to act fairly, right to be heard, duty of adequate consultation etc).

In essence, this challenge was based on the alleged unfairness of the process followed by politicians in rejecting the draft charter drawn up by the press itself.

Here is the petition for a charter issue by PressBof at the end of April and, for its rejection, see The Guardian 8th October.

The question of whether there is a royal prerogative power to regulate the press was not before the court and, for all I know, may never be.  Possibly, PressBof could not sensibly raise such an argument having petitioned the Privy Council itself for a Charter.  Nevertheless, it was interesting to speculate on the possibility that someone might put a challenge on that basis - 26th October - The Press ~ The Royal Charter ~ (again)!

Additional Reading:

Inforrm's Blog - Court rejects PressBoF's application for injunction 

11 King's Bench Walk

Addendum 31st October:

The Independent - Queen sets seal on cross-party politicians' charter for press regulation

Addendum 7th November:

An appeal has been lodged - The Guardian 7th November

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