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In Memory of the Princess of Wales

British Editors Back Tough New Privacy Code

The following is fron Reuters. Many of us who are calling for an end to press harassment have mixed feelings on this, and really have to think hard about any sweeping restrictions on the press, but, are glad to see something happen to clamp down on press harassment.

Thursday September 25 5:13 PM EDT British Editors Back Tough New Privacy Code LONDON (Reuter) - British newspaper editors gave their backing in principle Thursday to a tougher media code of practice designed to clamp down on intrusion after the death of Princess Diana.

The proposals, drafted by Britain's media watchdog, include a ban on pictures taken by freelance paparazzi photographers, measures to stop harassment, more protection for children and a wider definition of private property to protect celebrities from prying lenses while they are in church or on the beach.

"There will be no longer a market in this country for pictures by the sort of photographers who persistently pursued Princess Diana. Motorbike chases, stalking and hounding are unacceptable," Lord John Wakeham, the head of Britain's Press Complaints Commission, told a news conference.

Britain's press is self-regulating and the bark of Wakeham's watchdog is worse than its bite.

But after leading editors met for several hours, they agreed to the new curbs -- which will be among the toughest in Europe -- to allay public disquiet over the media's role in Diana's death.

She was killed when her car crashed at high speed in Paris on August 31 trying to elude chasing photographers.

"We have reached a consensus. I don't think there will be any sticking points," said Sir David English, Associated Newspapers editor-in-chief and chairman of the industry's code of practice committee.

But the new code will not take effect for several weeks.

"We need to get the wording right so we can do our jobs in the media and recognize the changes that are required by the general culture of the times," English said.

Stuart Higgins, editor of Britain's best-selling tabloid, The Sun, said: "We believe that Lord Wakeham has made some radically reforming recommendations which we welcome in principle and look forward to discussing in detail."

Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore said the thrust of Thursday's proposals would please Diana's brother, Earl Charles Spencer, who angrily denounced the press for hounding his sister to her death.

"The key good news is that people in the industry are listening in the industry to Lord Wakeham and we are moving forward very strongly on some very important things," Moore told BBC radio.

He said there was a very good measure of agreement in principle. But he editors still differed about just how far they should go to defend the principle of privacy. Some tabloid newspapers, the main buyers of furtive paparazzi pictures, were dragging their feet, he told BBC radio.

Another area of disagreement was whether to impose penalties if the new code was broken. Moore suggested transgressors should make payments to charity and publish much more prominent corrections and apologies in their newspapers.

"So there'll be quite a lot of slog about this further down the road. There's also as yet no discussion of whether we take a common industry view about a privacy law," he added.

Legal experts say it would be hard to draw up and enforce a law that distinguishes between people's right to privacy and the right of the press to investigate matters of public interest.

British newspapers have already promised either not to print paparazzi photographs of Diana's sons, Prince William, 15, and Prince Harry, 13, or else not to breach their privacy with unauthorised photographs.

Because the market for paparazzi photos is a global one, Wakeham said he intended to canvas international support for an international standard for dealing with the problem.