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Anorak | Reject section 40 and support ‘British values’

Reject section 40 and support ‘British values’

by | 18th, December 2016

Communities secretary Sajid Javid says irony of ironies we should all pledge an oath to uphold “British values”. As one tweeter puts it, “Since when was an oath of allegiance a #British value?”

Javid says the oath could include phrases such as “tolerating the views of others even if you disagree with them”, as well as “believing in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from abuse a belief in equality, democracy, and the democratic process” and “respect for the law, even if you think the law is an ass”.

The Government doesn’t much like those ‘British” freedoms. They want to limit free speech and throttle the Press. If you believe in free speech, tell them. And tell these enemies of “British values” where to stick it.

The British government has opened up a public consultation on the next stage of the Leveson Inquiry. It is asking us two questions. Should the government implement Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013? And should the government go ahead with Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry?

Section 40 incentivises newspapers to sign up to State-approved bodies. Failure to sign up to the official censors means those publications will have to pay the costs of anyone who brings a civil suit, libel or privacy actions against them even if they win their case.

Is that an incentive to sign up top the Royal Charter-backed press regulator? No. It’s blackmail. Join Impress, the Max Mosley-funded press regulator backed by the censorious Hacked Off, or else they’ll cut your legs off. Write anything unpleasant against the rich and powerful, and watch your organ whipped like a prostitute  and most likely killed off.

You can sign here and tell the Government that guffing on about freedoms of speech means nothing if you don’t believe in it.

To Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP,

Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport,

My answers to your consultation questions are as follows:

Question 1: Which of the following statements do you agree with?

Answer: Option (c) Government should ask Parliament to repeal all of section 40 now

Section 40 would stifle freedom of the press in the United Kingdom. It would put an undue burden on publications which wish to remain entirely independent. They would be forced to shoulder legal costs of complainants whether or not they are found to be at fault.

This would have dire consequences for publications both large and small; making independent publications reticent about reporting important stories for fear of crippling legal costs and bankruptcy.

If the press is to be free, the state has no role in regulating what is published. While signing up to a regulatory body is allegedly voluntary the sanctions contained in Section 40 would constitute state coercion of the press.

Question 2: Do you have evidence in support of your view, particularly in terms of the impacts on the press industry and claimants?

Answer:

* Repealing all of section 40 now is a vital and necessary step to protect the freedom of our press and the democracy it safeguards.

* With nothing to lose, complainants are more likely to launch legal cases against publications (both large and small) based on the smallest of disagreements. These are issues that can be easily resolved by letters to the editor and/or editor corrections; timely and expensive legal procedure is not necessary.

* Increased levels of legal action that will be enabled by section 40 is far more likely to stifle debate in the United Kingdom. It will have drastic effects on the financial situations of small publications, forcing them and the wider discourse they offer to close.

* Newspapers are public institutions. They hold historic reputations and an ongoing source of political and social engagement. The more we have, the better.

* John Whittingdale, the former culture secretary, said imposing the cost penalties outlined in section 40 would result in further losses of jobs and titles in the newspaper industry.

Question 3: To what extent will full commencement incentivise publishers to join a recognised self-regulator? Please supply evidence.

Answer: Commencement of section

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Posted: 18th, December 2016 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink