North Briton

In 1762, the new king, George III, arranged for his close friend, the Earl of Bute, to become prime minister. This decision upset a large number of MPs who considered Bute to be incompetent. John Wilkes became Bute's leading critic in the House of Commons. In June 1762 Wilkes established The North Briton, a weekly newspaper in opposition to The Briton, a journal that supported Bute's administration. Wilkes appointed Charles Churchill, a former curate, to edit the newspaper. For the next forty-five weeks the North Briton severely attacked the king and his Prime Minister.

After one article that appeared on 23rd April 1763, George III and his ministers decided to prosecute John Wilkes for seditious libel. He was arrested but at a court hearing the Lord Chief Justice ruled that as an MP, Wilkes was protected by privilege from arrest on a charge of libel. His discharge was greeted with great popular acclaim and Wilkes left the court as a champion of liberty. However, the government was successful in stopping Wilkes from publishing further editions of the North Briton.