In the backwash from Leveson, we recently saw 200 Peers vote to make it harder for journalists to investigate possible wrongdoing by public officials, but fortunately MPs seem not to have supported that.
Those who believe in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution will have been pleased with that outcome, that being the amendment which prevents Congress from making any law… ‘abridging the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press…’ etc.
But it seems that we can’t relax yet because the EU wants ‘fake news’ to be cut, without offering a definition of what that is. It could conceivably extend to criticism of the EU, as implied by the Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice (in case C-274/99) which suggested that that would not be acceptable.
Britain’s EU Commissioner says that fake news is a ‘real threat to... our democratic institutions’. But surely the idea of having any branch of the media controlled by a government agency, would be of even more concern. What do our MPs think about that?
In absence of a US-style First Amendment to protect it, the freedom of the media continues to look vulnerable. Let us hope that Parliament will continue to stand its ground against these potential threats, because, as stated in the US Supreme Court (in the film The Post) the media is ‘to serve the governed, not the governors’.
Roger J. Arthur
Melrose Place, Storrington