Power to the People - live blog from the CIPR Northern Conference

Today is the CIPR Northern Conference and I'll be live blogging throughout the event. The day has already kicked off with opening addresses from CIPR North East chair Chris Taylor, the CIPR's CEO Jane Wilson and President Elect Stephen Waddington. Among their brief speeches were calls for practitioners to increase their CPD efforts, to engage further with the Institute and for people to play their part in improving its reputation.

First up in terms of sessions is a talk from Brian Cathcart, founder of the Hacked Off campaign.

Here's what I'm taking from his presentation:

- the change in the newspaper industry is a clear example of power to the people (change instigated in the wake of cases brought by the McCanns & many others in response to mining of personal data) - there was a collective failure of responsibility across national press and this abuse of press power has created a big problem for democracy - exposing the large corporations behind the mass press intrusion has not been easy due to the sheer power held by these bodies - press scandals happened repeatedly over the years with heartfelt promises for change. The change never came and the pattern had to be broken. People power achieved this - the campaign has never been about gagging the press as its freedom is wholeheartedly supported - the Milly Dowler exposé was the straw that broke the camel's back for the public. Hacked Off launched a petition that week and support was unprecedented. Those who signed up are still involved & even provide ongoing funding - the voice of the victims has played an important part in Hacked Off's success. Previous campaigns had very little public engagement. Having people to repeatedly tell their story remains invaluable - where before the press was like a megaphone with people unable to respond, the digital world has changed this. People can engage & make their views known online and continue to do so - the public forum for the Leveson enquiry allowed the sheer extent of the press abuse to be unveiled - the Royal Charter approved by Parliament embodies the findings of the public enquiry at the behest of government and is backed by the public - it is therefore a solution that meets the requirements - the Charter has not been approved by Privy Council because Pressed Off have put forward a separate Charter which is currently being considered. A decision on this is expected soon. Hacked Off sees the new version as something that restricts press justice on a breathtaking scale and hopes the alternative Charter will be rejected - at Hacked Off the fight goes on.