JK Rowling, Philip Pullman, Jeanette Winterson and tens of other authors have signed a declaration of support for press regulation to be underpinned by a royal charter.
The campaign group Hacked Off has placed full page adverts containing the name of the signatories in three national newspapers, including The Guardian, today (18th March).
The declaration, signed by more than 200 actors, writers, academics and celebrities, calls for newspapers to agree to a royal charter published last October, which proposed that the Press Complaints Commission be scrapped and replaced with a regulator with greater powers. The charter follows many of the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.
However, the industry fears the charter allows state control of the press and is instead setting up its own charter, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (ipso).
Authors who have added their names to the list include Monica Ali, Alan Bennett, Ian McEwan, A.S Byatt, Irvine Welsh, Helen Fielding, Kazuo Ishiguro, Professor Richard Dawkins, poet Craig Raine and biographer Claire Tomalin. Granta publisher Sigrid Rausing has also signed the declaration.
They join names such as actors Miranda Hart and Joanna Lumley and football presenter Gary Lineker in calling for the press to sign up to the charter.
The advert will also be carried in other newspapers and magazines throughout the week.
Supporters of the newspapers’ argument include the leading international publishers' organisation, WAN-IFRA, which held a press freedom mission to Britain in January.
However, Hacked Off reject the claim that press freedom will be threatened by the charter and claim that Ipso is far too similar to the PCC and lacks independence and rigour.
The advert reads: “We believe a free press is the cornerstone of democracy. It should be fearless in exposing corruption, holding the powerful to account and championing the powerless. It has nothing to fear, and can only be enhanced, by acknowledging unethical practice in its midst and acting firmly to ensure it is not repeated. We also think that editors and journalists will rise in public esteem when they accept a form of self-regulation that is independently audited on the lines recommended by Lord Justice Leveson and laid down in the Royal Charter of 30th October 2013.”
It adds: “It is our view that this Charter safeguards the press from political interference whilst also giving vital protection to the vulnerable.”