Speaking at an event launching the Index on Censorship (IOC) and English PEN's recommendations for a new libel bill, Geoffrey Robertson criticised the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and said there was no point to the organisation.
He described this week's report from the commission on phone hacking at News Group Newspapers as 'pathetic' and evidence of a 'fraud' committed by the editors who site on the commission's code committee.
"The newspaper editors have for years committed a fraud upon the public and their readers by presenting this confidence trick, the PCC, as though it were a real court, as though it were significant," said Robertson, who acted in the Jameel vs Wall Street Journal case.
"The Press Complaints Commission has been funded by the press firstly to provide a poor person’s libel court, which has now gone by the board because everyone uses CFAs. It has been funded secondly to prevent the encroachment of the law of privacy, but it is too late now because we have a law of privacy."
If the editors of Fleet had any real integrity they would withdraw from the PCC, added Robertson, who used Private Eye editor Ian Hislop as an example.
"[Hislop is] the editor of the only organ that refuses to accept PCC judgements. He said he wouldn't want to live up to the ethics of the newspaper editors who are on the PCC's editors committee," said Robertson.
Media commentator Roy Greenslade, speaking from the audience, echoed Robertson's comments and called on editors and owners to take a pledge to stop using libel law themselves.
The former press council, which fought for media freedom and 'condemned the way the law was going', couldn't carry out these roles while also handling complaints, said Robertson.
Since its demise there has been 'no organisation that has meant there is no common cause for press freedom today [in the UK]', he said.
"There's very much to do today to fight for media freedom and the 10 reforms that this document suggests do provide an important way forward. But the ball must be very much in the media’s court," said Robertson.
"It fails to make common cause for their own rights which are after all only the rights of the public. The media only has rights by way of a watchdog because they are representative of the public’s right to have information and opinion."