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Spectator Editor, Fraser Nelson, declines to sign up to the new press regulatory body set up under Royal Charter

spectator

Fraser Nelson, editor of Britain’s prestigious weekly comment magazine, The Spectator, has declared that his paper will not sign up with the new regulatory body that Parliament has voted to establish .  The new body heralds serious restrictions on freedom of speech in Britain, and Fraser wants no part of it.

“If such a group is constituted we will not attend its meetings, pay its fines nor heed its menaces. We would still obey the (other) laws of the land. But to join any scheme which subordinates press to parliament would be a betrayal of what this paper has stood for since its inception in 1828.”

For the first time it includes websites and blogs with vague terminology referring to sites containing ‘news-related material’ (a term that could include most of them).  The ‘independent watchdog’ is at least not backed by statute as Labour and the Liberal-Democrats wanted, but it has power to impose hefty fines and exemplary damages in the million pound range.

Fraser has made a bold stand against political regulation of the media.  It will be difficult for the new body to fine the Spectator for not signing up, given the paper’s history and prestige, and that will establish an important precedent for others.  Fraser is standing up to maintain the free press that ultimately protects us from shady politicians and corruption in high places.  He should be applauded.

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