Whining “victims” of News Corporation should accept that they are not the voice of the British public
In a letter to Rupert Murdoch, the self-proclaimed “victims” of what they call “unlawful actions of… papers published by a News Corporation company” attack his decision to sign up News UK titles to the Independent Press Standards Organisation – a new self-regulator for the UK press.
Though the signatories on the letter include a couple of genuine “victims” of press harassment such as Christopher Jefferies, in the main the signatories are dominated by bleating “celebrities” including Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan: Individuals who happily use the press when they’ve got something to promote. That the list also features Kate and Gerry McCann and Max Mosley isn’t surprising but what truly grates is that these people miss the point and are fixated on putting in place a system of regulation that would be just as bad as the toothless poodle that was the Press Complaints Commission.
In bleating on about News UK “leading a disreputable campaign of scaremongering while failing to reflect the majority view in its papers” and suggesting that the company is “again on course for governance failure, disastrous costs, harm to British citizens and public disgrace”, these individuals stir up nothing more than nonsense. Yes, there are bad journalists and yes, there is a need for greater transparency when it comes to righting wrongs when they’re done, but these individuals do not speak for the British public. They speak for their own selfish interests and they should be ignored.
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The letter in full:
“April 17th, 2014
Dear Rupert Murdoch,
We are victims of unlawful actions by employees of the News of the World or The Sun, papers published by a News Corporation company.
As you know, the total cost to News Corporation of governance failure in the UK, including the opportunity cost and the damage to reputation, is incalculable, not least because prosecutions and litigation are likely to continue for years. We assume that everyone with an interest in the future of News Corp and its subsidiaries wants to ensure such failure cannot happen again, and that all appropriate steps are taken to restore the trust of the British public in the company and its papers.
We write now to express our deep regret that the management of News UK is turning its back on an important opportunity to restore trust. In defiance of an exceptionally broad consensus of opinion in the UK about the best way for the press to proceed, News UK is rejecting meaningful reform of the UK self-regulatory system and attempting to preserve the failed arrangements of the past.
Worse, News UK is leading a disreputable campaign of scaremongering while failing to reflect the majority view in its papers. You once said, Mr Murdoch, that newspapers had ‘a great power for evil’ – the power to withhold important information from the public. News UK papers are currently exercising that power.
The arrangements set out in the UK Royal Charter on Press Self-Regulation that was endorsed by all parties in the British Parliament last March pose no threat to freedom of expression. If they did we would not endorse them. Nor would Britain’s National Union of Journalists. Nor would the many prominent writers, directors, broadcasters and lawyers who have expressed their support. Nor would the vast majority of the British public.
Instead of embracing reform and so demonstrating that it has changed, News UK is digging itself into a hole of untrustworthiness and denial. Instead of making a break with a shameful past, it is clinging to that past.
Unless there is a change of heart, News UK is again on course for governance failure, disastrous costs, harm to British citizens and public disgrace. We urge you to use your influence to ensure that the management of News UK embraces a change that is necessary, safe and good for both the company and the British public.
Christopher Jefferies, Kate McCann, Gerry McCann, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, HJK, John Tulloch, Max Mosley, Mark Cann, Tom Rowland, Ben Noakes, Ed Blum, Charlotte Harris, Chris Bryant, Joan Smith, J.R.S. Davies, Jacqui Hames, Jane Winter, Paul Dadge, Máire M. Davies”