Most newspapers sign up to an independent regulator (eg IPSO) but are now faced with the imposition of a state-backed regulator.
It seems that libel costs can in future be awarded against any newspaper, which does not sign up to the regulator’s scheme, even where the newspaper has successfully defended a claim.
That poses a direct threat to (what used to be called) the free press, making newspapers far more risk averse, when deciding whether or not to investigate a particular issue. Even a remote risk of being sued, is likely to drive investigative journalism into retreat.
Any form of state control of the press represents a Rubicon that the last PM undertook not to cross. It is something that would not even be entertained in the United States, where such an infringement to a free press would be unconstitutional.
The offending UK Act was apparently passed by Parliament in 2013, no doubt helping to protect MPs from unexpected (and possibly embarrassing) revelations.
Despite that some will have fought the proposals and it would be nice to hear from our local MPs, how they voted and what if anything they now propose to counter the loss of press freedom.
Whilst at it, they might also let us have their views on the ECJ (European Court of Justice) 2001 ruling, that the EU can lawfully suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures, sweeping aside English Common Law and 50 years of precedents on civil liberties.
Presumably that was one of the future EU reforms that they had in mind, when they decided to back the Remain campaign?
Roger J. Arthur
Melrose Place, Storrington
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