British Newspapers Lose Court Bid to Halt Press Regulations

Representatives of the British newspaper industry lost a last-ditch court bid to stop new rules governing the press from being implemented.

The Press Standards Board of Finance failed to win an injunction preventing the rules from being handed to the Queen’s advisers, the Privy Council, for approval today.

“I don’t accept the procedure adopted can have unfairly prevented the claimant from putting forward its case,” Judge Stephen Richards said. “All concerned were well informed of the issues.”

The U.K.’s main political parties agreed to a so-called Royal Charter to create an independent newspaper oversight body. The move followed a yearlong inquiry by Judge Brian Leveson into the industry after a phone-hacking scandal that led to the closing of News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid.

The Newspaper Society and other industry bodies said they would take the case to the court of appeal. “We are deeply disappointed with this decision,” they said in an e-mailed statement.

The Press Standards board told a panel of judges at the hearing today that newspapers weren’t properly consulted. Its members oppose the Royal Charter because it doesn’t want government control of the media and is seeking a legal review of the plans.

Irrational Process

The process was “wholly unfair and irrational” and “has the potential to profoundly affect the nature of press regulation,” the group’s lawyers said in court documents.

The application was “an attempt to re-argue issues that were considered at great length by Sir Brian Leveson,” the government’s lawyers said in court documents. The Royal Charter contains safeguards against government interference and should proceed to the Privy Council for approval today, they said.

The U.K. government on Oct. 8 rejected the alternative plans proposed by the press for a system of self-regulation, saying it would lack independence from newspapers.

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