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Don't trust me (or any creature of the State) with control of the press: As a Royal Charter on newspaper regulation is approved, a stark warning from a senior MP David Davis, former Conservative Party chairman, says British press freedom is under attack In its 300-year history, British press freedom has faced many threats. That is no surprise. A truly free press is a probing, scrutinising press; one that can make life uncomfortable for the Establishment. Winston Churchill described the free press as ‘the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize’. Now that freedom is under attack. The culprit? A new Royal Charter, approved by the Privy Council. In some respects, there is not a huge gulf between the type of regulation newspaper editors want and the regulation the Royal Charter demands. Both want an arbitration service to deal swiftly with complaints. Both promise prominent apologies from newspapers that get their facts wrong. Both could impose million pound fines for serious misconduct. The crucial difference is about control. The press want to set up the regulator themselves, free from political influence. The Royal Charter claims to preserve press freedom but is really a creature of the State. Any newspaper that signs up will be submitting to regulation laid down by politicians. And if politicians have made the rules, then they can change the rules to suit themselves. Ministers dismiss this concern. They claim a charter agreed by the Privy Council is somehow less political than a law proposed by Government. This is nonsense. The Privy Council is not a panel of independent experts – its active members are Government Ministers. We should not forget that it was the Privy Council that handed spin doctor Alastair Campbell the power to give orders to civil servants. Despite this, the Government claims politicians could not further tighten up press laws because the Royal Charter can only be changed with a two-thirds majority in Parliament. To the untrained eye this might look like a good safeguard for press freedom. pre bonded hairIt is actually very fragile. Any government could bypass this by amending the original Act which lays down the two-thirds majority rule. This can be done with a one-vote majority. In his Guardian column last week, Hacked Off supporter Steve Coogan seemed to think this is all improbable, claiming that no politician wants to prevent ‘investigative or public interest journalism’. As someone who spent a decade on the Opposition benches exposing government scandals against the Blair administration’s constant culture of cover-up, I found this statement astonishing. Even more so because, in recent weeks, we have seen how government can threaten the press when it reports inconvenient truths. In June, The Guardian published documents leaked to them by Edward Snowden. These showed that intelligence agencies were intercepting millions of innocent people’s phone calls and emails. The Government’s reaction? To protect the intelligence agencies and shoot the messenger. In July, the Government forced Guardian staff to destroy hard drives containing the Snowden files. David Cameron claims they did this because they agreed the files posed a danger to national security. That is not true. The Guardian agreed for two reasons. First, not doing so would mean a costly legal battle. Second, all the information is also stored on hard drives in the US, where journalists enjoy the protection of the US Constitution. Last week Mr Cameron also warned newspapers that they must demonstrate ‘social responsibility’ or ‘it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act’. This thinly veiled threat was crystallised by Conservative MP Julian Smith in a recent debate. Mr Smith called for The Guardian to be prosecuted.

That is why we cannot trust this or any future government with press regulation. The supposed safeguards for press freedom might look strong now, but they can be swept away in an instant on the grounds of ‘national security’, when the real aim is to spare Ministers’ blushes. Of course a government must do all it can to stop sensitive information getting out. Details of Special Forces’ operations and the identity of our spies should not be public knowledge. However, British governments already have the power to do this. They can issue D-Notices, official requests to editors not to publish a story for reasons of national security. Mr Cameron has threatened to use more D-Notices against newspapers unless they behave more ‘responsibly’. This bluster cannot hide the fact that the only crime newspapers have committed is to expose legally dubious mass surveillance and to embarrass the Government. David Cameron has threatened to use more D-Notices against newspapers unless they behave more 'responsibly' In fact, the Government issued a D-Notice in June, when the Snowden story began, which accepted that no newspaper had broken any rules. The Notice could issue only the vague warning that the story ‘may begin’ to jeopardise national security if there were ‘further developments of this same theme’. Our Government is the only one in the free world to have reacted to this scandal by leaning on its own press. The Washington Post, New York Times, Der Spiegel, El Mundo and L’Espresso all carried the Edward Snowden story. Yet the US, German, Spanish and Italian governments have not threatened those newspapers with prosecution. remy hair extensionsThat is why the securocrats’ attacks on The Guardian sound so hysterical. Clearly no rules have been broken, and there are no grounds for prosecution. Yet the Director-General of MI5 claims the Snowden leaks will allow terrorists to ‘strike at will’. Former GCHQ director Sir David Omand argued that the Snowden revelations were ‘the most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever’ – even worse than those of Burgess and MacLean, the Cambridge spies who passed state secrets to the Soviet Union throughout the Second World War and on into the 1950s. Am I the only person who detects a hint of hyperbole here? Defenders of the Royal Charter point out that it is optional. If newspapers are not forced to sign up, how can the Charter pose such a threat to press freedom? It does so by threatening to hit newspapers where it hurts – in their bank accounts. If a newspaper gets sued and loses its case in court, it must pay damages to the other side.  All fair and above board. However, under a new law, newspapers that reject the Royal Charter must not only pay extra high damages, they may still have to pay everybody’s costs even if they win their case. It is an outrageous law that seeks to punish the innocent. Sometimes, though, the press are their own worst enemy. Many MPs oppose the Royal Charter and defend press freedom. However, we are not helped when Fleet Street editors, rather than uniting to defend their profession, instead attack each other. The freedom of the press is at stake. That is more important than the rivalry  among newspaper editors. There is no doubt that before the Leveson Inquiry, parts of the press were pretty shabby. The willingness of some journalists to harass, intrude, blag personal information and hack phones appalled all decent people. However, we should not forget that what allowed some editors to play fast and loose with the law was the way the leaders of the political parties sucked up to newspaper owners and encouraged them to act as if they were above the law. The culpability of party leaderships is precisely why we should not welcome any form of press regulation that they can control. At its worst a free press can be intrusive, cruel and unfair. But it is also the best weapon we have to hold the Establishment to account.

Chris Rock's 33-year-old girlfriend Megalyn Echikunwoke flashed a diamond ring on her wedding finger on Saturday evening while at the Apollo in the Hamptons 2016 party in New York City. The timing is interesting as the next day the comedian finalized his divorce from wife of 20 years, Malaak Compton-Rock. The ring - a yellow gold double band with a small diamond - could be an engagement ring. As PageSix revealed on Thursday, a friend shared a clear image of the ring and added it was time to celebrate 'new beginnings,' strongly suggesting the standup could be on his way to another marriage. Bling it on! Chris Rock's girlfriend Megalyn Echikunwoke flashed diamond ring on wedding finger on Sunday the night before his divorce was finalized from wife of 10 years Malaak 'Last night we celebrated new beginnings . . . #lovewins,' the unidentified friend wrote in the caption. The site pointed out Echikunwoke seemed to take a dig at Malaak when she replied 'Bye, Felicia,' which is a catchphrase that pretty much translates to 'don't let the door hit you on the way out,' only not as polite. perruques cheveux naturelsA friend added crying-laughter emojis. They look good together: The standup and Echikunwoke at the Governor's Ball at the 88th Academy Awards back in February; she does not appear to have the ring on here The post was then taken down. The beauty glowed as she held onto Rock, who was also in great spirits. She had on a lovely floral-print dress with spaghetti straps and her hair was worn down over her bare shoulders. A source told PageSix, 'she always wears that ring,' which appears to be true as she has had it on several times in the past six months. They have been dating for one year and she lives at his New Jersey home. The last one: Rock and Malaak back in 2014; they have two daughters together and have raised an adopted daughter as well

His rep then said Chris was '100 percent' not engaged. On Monday Chris and Malaak both appeared in a New Jersey courtroom to finalise the split, reported TMZ. The 51-year-old comic actor and his wife - who have been separated since 2014 -have two daughters Lola Simone, 14 and  Zahra Savanna, 12. Chris and Malaak Compton-Rock also appear to have been raising eight-year-old Ntombi, who first came to live with them from South Africa when she was six months old, according to the website, although details are unclear. In divorce papers, Malaak listed Ntombi-futhi Samantha as a dependent along with the Rocks’ two biological daughters. The kids: Chris with Malaak and children Lola, Zahra Savanna and Ntombi at the Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted premiere in NYC in 2012 She stated that in addition to their two children, there is a child 'who has resided with the parties since before her first birthday.' But rather mysteriously, a spokesman for Chris told TMZ he does not have an adopted child. perruques cheveuxTMZ previously reported that back in 2008, the family took in Ntombi who remained in their house and was subsequently enrolled in a local school. She mingles with the big guns: Chris and Megalyn with Harvey Weinstein at the Apollo party The site added that the girl's parents were thought to be unemployed and from South Africa, although it is not known why she was living with the Rock family. They add that when Chris and Malaak began divorce proceedings, Chris maintained contact with his two biological daughters. However their divorce case is sealed so it is not known what settlement was reached. Meanwhile, Chris began dating actress Megalyn earlier this year. Megalyn, who has had recurring roles in 24, ER, CSI Miami, The 4400, 90210 and Damien, was most recently featured as the animal-powered Vixen in the TV series Arrow.

Madonna surprised fans with an unexpected appearance at a 25th anniversary screening of her documentary Truth Or Dare on Wednesday. The superstar showed up at the event held at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan to the delight of the 400 or so in the audience. The 58-year-old pop culture icon shared a couple of photos on her Instagram showing her standing between two on-screen images of herself from her Blond Ambition tour of 1990. 'Surreal moment!' she wrote alongside the picture. Scroll down for video lace front wigs'Surreal moment!' Madonna surprised fans at a 25th anniversary screening of documentary Truth Or Dare and posed next to images of herself from the 1990 Blond Ambition Tour Madonna: Truth Or Dare was first released in May 1991 and followed the Material Girl on tour and showed her behind-the-scenes with then-boyfriend Warren Beatty, praying with her backup dancers and facing arrest for public indecency at her concert in Toronto, Canada. 'So many freedoms we take for granted that we did not have then. Thank you Alek Keshishian. We changed history with this film.!' Madonna wrote. Keshishian directed the film that was shot in black and white. Who's that girl? The pop icon, who just turned 58, delighted the 400 or so fans gathered to watch the film at the museum Of Modern Art in Manhattan on Wednesday

Demure: Madonna wore an off-he-shoulder red dress with white floral detailing and cinched at the waist with a black band for her surprise appearance Sharing 'a kiki': She was accompanied by her daughter Lourdes 'Lola' Leon, 19 In a second photo shared via her Instagram, she's seen sharing 'a kiki' with daughter Lourdes Leon or Lola as she calls her. cosplay wigsMadonna wore a red off-the-shoulder dress with a flounce neckline and black spaghetti straps. The frock features white floral detailing, half-sleeves and was cinched under the bust with a black band. She added a matching black and white floral patterned purse and wore her signature blonde hair styled in loose waves to her shoulders. Madonna had just returned from a birthday trip to Cuba with Lola, 19, and adopted children, 10-year-olds David and Mercy. Truth Or Dare AKA In Bed With Madonna showed behind-the-scenes footage of the singer including candid moments with then-boyfriend Warren Beatty and prayer circles with her dancers Getaway: Madonna recently celebrated her 58th birthday with a trip to Cuba accompanied by daughter Lola, 19, and her adopted children David and Mercy, both 10