Sunday, January 08, 2017

48 hours to save Britain's Free Press

Two days left in the consultation on Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

The consultation closes at 5pm on Tuesday 10th January 2017.

It may seem strange to some people that with a parliamentary-by-election due shortly in my own constituency - and believe me, I have been kept very busy as a result - I am writing so much about a national consultation most people have probably never heard of.

Well, that's because I believe that Section 40 would seriously damage Britain's democracy by emasculating press freedom.

I am not a cheerleader for Britain's newspapers - they don't always get it right and some things they have written have been disgraceful. As I have said before, I would like to see  IPSOS, the regulatory body which most of the newspapers are signed up, introduce a system of low-cost arbitration.

But section 40 is not just the wrong was to get press reform but a counterproductive and disastrous one because it will hammer good journalism as well as bad. 
Section 40 will crucify the ability of local newspapers like the Whitehaven News or the Keswick Reminder to report anything controversial because if someone does not like a report they write and sues them, they may have to pay the complainant's costs even if they win and their article was found to be truthful and in the public interest. That cannot be right.

 You can take part in the government consultation at

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-the-leveson-inquiry-and-its-implementation

and if you want to live in a country with a free press that can challenge powerful interests, I strongly recommend that you do so, and ask the government not to implement Section 40.

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