By James Doleman and Angela Haggerty
Press campaign group Hacked off is staging a social media 'Thunderclap' at 8pm tonight (27 June) to demand the implementation of press regulation recommended in the Leveson report.
Thunderclap, which describes itself as a "crowdspeaking" platform, allows campaigners and brands to arrange for identical social media messages to be posted at the same time. Organisers set the number of supporters they expect to receive and if the numbers signing up meet the target the posts are sent out.
Previous users of the service include The White House, Levi's, Durex, Sony Pictures, the BBC, and the United Nations.
Launching the event, Hacked Off associate director Dr Evan Harris said: “The response has been huge. Eighteen months after the fastest-growing petition ever endorsed the Leveson Report, Thunderclap have confirmed we now have their largest ever social media campaign in the UK.
“The co-ordinated the Thunderclap will over 35 million followers of some of Britain’s most popular Twitter users, including Russell Brand, Stephen Fry, Simon Pegg, JK Rowling, John Cleese, John Bishop, Ian McKellen, Richard Dawkins, Graham Norton, Paloma Faith, Marcus Brigstocke, Billy Bragg, Irvine Welsh and Peter Tatchell.”
The social campaign has been fronted by Gemma Dowler, the sister of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose phone was hacked by the News of the World when she went missing. Following a video calling for change in the press culture.
Former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, who was found not guilty of all charges at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, broke her media silence yesterday and said she had been "vindicated" by the verdict.
However, Hacked Off said: "The trial shone a light on the appalling, systemic newsroom culture of bullying, lies, intimidation and intrusion that has devastated the lives of many people. From Royalty and cabinet ministers to victims of crime and bereaved families, nobody was safe."
A number of media organisations have criticised Hacked Off for demanding what they call "government regulation of the free press" and Private Eye editor Ian Hislop recently resigned from Index on Censorship due to its links to Steve Coogan, a prominent supporter of Hacked Off.
However, Dr Harris has insisted Hacked Off "reinforces what opinion polls have shown – that the public remain committed to seeing Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations implemented, back the Royal Charter and will never trust anything that falls short of that.”
The UK’s national print titles are staunchly opposed to the government’s Royal Charter press regulation legislation and have refused to sign up. The industry’s new self-regulator, Ipso, will launch later this year, replacing the much-criticised Press Complaints Commission (PCC).