Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Leveson 2 defeated by nine votes

The government has defeated amendments to the Data Protection Bill which would have forced it to re-start the Leveson inquiry by nine votes.

MPa voted 304 to 295 against a proposal from Ed Miliband for a "Leveson 2" further inquiry.

A second amendment from Tom Watson which would effectively have implemented Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act and thereby put most newspapers in the position of having to pay the legal costs of both sides in any complaint, even if they won, was dropped.

Since Ed Miliband was throwing accusations of broken promises around and questioning whether this was an honourable course it is worth seeing what the 2017 Conservative Manifesto on which Tory MPs were elected had to say on the subject:

“Given the comprehensive nature of the first stage of the Leveson Inquiry and given the lengthy investigations by the police and Crown Prosecution Service into alleged wrongdoing, we will not proceed with the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press.
“We will repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which, if enacted, would force media organisations to become members of a flawed regulatory system or risk having to pay the legal costs of both sides in libel and privacy cases, even if they win.”

In other words the Conservative MPs who voted down his amendment were doing exactly what they had promised the electorate less than a year ago they would do.

I am very relieved by this result. As the Professor of Journalism at the University of Kent, Tim Luckhurst, tweeted after the vote,

"I am delighted that" (Hacked Off's) "appalling amendments were defeated in the Commons today. Were they ever to return, Britain's reputation as a bastion of free speech and a champion of democracy would be shattered. A free press serves us all."

Quite.

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