I braced myself as I scrolled down to the list of names.

Who would break my already fractured old heart?

Who would I have to add to my already lengthy “You’re Dead To Me” list?

You see, over 200 British authors, actors, musicians and other bigwigs have signed the “Hacked Off” petition, “urging UK press owners to embrace the cross-party Royal Charter on press regulation.”

The English press is legendarily ruthless:

Most reporters ensconced in Florida’s “Tabloid Valley,” where the National Enquirer and other supermarket tabs were headquartered, were British ex-pats.

(See also Evelyn Waugh’s barely fictional satire Scoop.)

But in 2011, critics said, British journalism hit a new low, when reporters at Rupert Murdoch’s loathed (and now defunct) News of the World were charged with hacking into the cell phones of 9/11 victims’ families — and, not incidentally, those of some celebrities, too.

Now — led by hacking “victim” and (admittedly adorable) whoremonger Hugh Grant — some celebrities and other leftist power brokers are pushing back, with great success:

While celebrities and victims of hacking fronted the campaign for tighter regulation of the press, it has been the liberal and left-wing intelligentsia and media that have driven the crusade to curb the popular press. It was they who formed Hacked Off, used the hacking scandal to demand and get the Leveson Inquiry into the entire ‘culture, practice and ethics’ of the UK media, and wrote the report’s demands for statutory-backed regulation.

Now more than 200 prominent members of what are sometimes called the chattering classes have publicly signed up to the demand for the press to bend the knee to the Royal Charter. It would be difficult to overestimate the abandonment of liberty that represents. The Royal Charter deal, stitched up by all the main political parties in an infamous late-night meeting with Hacked Off, seeks to impose a regulator using the ancient anti-democratic instruments of the Crown, the royal prerogative and the Her Majesty’s Privy Council. (…)

It evokes grim shadows of the old system of Crown licensing of the press, started by Henry VIII in 1529 and expanded under successive monarchs, under which nothing could be published without official permission.’

Those who defied the Crown licensers could expect to be sent to the Tower or the gallows.