The Society of Editors has expressed regret over the announcement by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that they will boycott several UK newspapers.
The couple, who are now believed to be living in Los Angeles, are reported to have written to the editors of a number of tabloid papers confirming they will not cooperate with the titles nor permit their PR team to answer enquiries.
The titles are The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Express and their sister Sunday titles and associated websites.
The letters state: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement.
“This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on and indeed have an opinion on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie.
“They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.”
The statement, issued by the couple’s public relations team, added: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging.”
Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors said the statement was sadly a clear attempt to undermine certain sections of the UK media who often ask uncomfortable questions.
“Although the Duke and Duchess say they support a free press and all it stands for there is no escaping their actions here amount to censorship and they are setting an unfortunate example,” said Murray.
“Although the couple may no longer style themselves as working royals, they continue to be high-profile public figures and indeed have made plain their intention to continue to do so. By appearing to dictate which media they will work with and which they will ignore they, no doubt unintentionally, give succour to the rich and powerful everywhere to use their example as an excuse to attack the media when it suits them.
“The truth is that Harry and Meghan have enjoyed and continue to enjoy a huge amount of positive coverage for themselves and their causes, much of it carried in the very titles they are now targeting. They may have been stung by some of the coverage they have not liked, they may disagree strongly with some elements of that coverage and can of course take action to answer any criticism they consider unfair or inaccurate through several channels. But the answer should never be to attempt to shun individual titles and their millions of readers.”
Murray added: “I feel certain the UK media, including those titles that are being singled out by the Sussexes, will continue to cover the important causes they champion and their lives.”
The announcement comes ahead of a court hearing this week in a legal case the Duchess has brought against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday over the publication of a letter written by her estranged father.