I strongly object to the threat to press freedom contained in section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.
This astonishingly illiberal and illogical measure will mean newspapers can be made to pay huge legal costs for the sin of telling the truth, unless they agree to be regulated by the Government’s approved body.
Any newspaper not signing up to the new Impress group would have to pay legal costs for both sides in libel actions taken against it, whether it wins or loses the case.
We already have some of the most restrictive libel laws in the world – for the state to propose a newspaper which keeps on the right side of these draconian laws when publishing news and commentaries should nonetheless be subject to bankruptcy by legal bills is outrageous.
What it will do is hand to any wealthy individual or organisation the ability to close a newspaper down by taking multiple libel actions against it, no matter how spurious.
I urge ministers to recognise beefed up self-regulation, combined with the obvious extra stigma which accompanies abuses these days – witness the demise of the News of the World – is by far the least worst option and by far the most compatible with a free society.
Section 40 should be dumped and freedom of the press should be preserved.
UKIP MEP for the