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IMPRESS calls for law makers to retain news publisher protections set out in Crime and Courts Act 2013

 

Commenting on the announcement that the Government intends to repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 through its proposed media bill, IMPRESS CEO Ed Procter said:

“The repeal of section 40 will limit legal protections for news publishers who subscribe to Royal Charter approved regulation and remove the incentive for news publishers to be well regulated. The decision marks a missed opportunity to ensure access to justice for ordinary people who are harmed by the press and equally, to protect news publishers from exorbitant lawsuits brought about by those with vast wealth and power.” 

Ed Procter continued:

“Repealing Section 40 runs contrary to Government policy objectives to protect press freedom, promote online safety and to protect journalists from Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (SLAPPs).  At the very least, the protections for well-regulated news publishers must be preserved.”

Section 40 is a carefully balanced law, made up of two parts. 

Part one incentivises news publishers to be well regulated and protects those who opt in to approved regulation from paying the legal costs of those that sue them.  This provides important protections for ethically minded journalists to publish public interest journalism without fear of costly legal reprisal.

Part two exposes news publishers who opt out of Royal Charter approved regulation, to the risk of paying the legal costs of those that sue them. This is controversial only because most of the large news publishing groups have opted out of approved regulation and may be exposed to such risks. These risks can be easily avoided by subscribing to a scheme of approved regulation.

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About IMPRESS

IMPRESS is an independent regulator that is approved in law under the Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press. IMPRESS regulates 200+ publications in the UK, reaching 20% of the UK population each month. We provide publishers and journalists with the protection and support they need to do their job. We offer complaints adjudication, free arbitration, a comprehensive insurance scheme and a progressive Standards Code. We work in partnership with the public, publishers and key stakeholders to raise the standards of journalism.

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Alexandra Ward: alexandra@impressreg.org.uk / 020 3325 4289