A delegation of Sri Lankan newspaper editors have travelled to London to warn David Cameron that the governments ‘draconian’ press regulation plans risk providing a ready-made excuse to authoritarian regimes seeking to exert their own control of local media.
The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka warned Britain was in danger of losing its reputation as a ‘beacon of freedom’ in the world as a result of its approval of a royal charter to oversee press self-regulation.
Britain’s newspaper industry has already heavily criticised the plan, warning that it risks handing control of the press to politicians for the first time in 300 years.
In an open letter the group said: “When looking into the eyes of those your government believe have veered from the path of democracy, British prime ministers and foreign secretaries alike will need to be able to speak with conviction and surety.
It continued "(the) fundamental bedrock of any democracy must be a free and independent press totally out of the reach of the politicians and apparatus of the state that it reports on. Democracy across the world shudders at what is happening in the United Kingdom, and Britain unfortunately stands smaller in the world as a result of your government's actions.”
The intervention comes ahead of a visit by Cameron to Sri Lanka on Friday to attend a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting – an occasion at which he is expected to raise concerns over the alleged intimidation of journalists in the south east Asian state.