The provisions, which are included in the Media Bill, will mean that newspaper publishers not signed up to a Royal-Charter approved regulator are no longer faced with the prospect of having to pay both sides’ legal costs in defamation and privacy cases regardless of whether they win or lose. Contained within the Crime and Courts Act 2013, the Society of Editors says it has long opposed Section 40 which was enacted more than 10 years ago as a means of inducing news publishers to sign up to a regulator that accorded with the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry.
Responding to the inclusion of the Media Bill within the King’s Speech, Dawn Alford, executive director of the Society of Editors said: “We welcome the government’s renewed commitment to repealing Section 40 which, for the best part of a decade, has been wielded over the newspaper industry in a bid to force them to sign up to a government-approved regulator.
“If enacted Section 40 would have had a devastating impact on investigative journalism and the public’s right to know particularly for smaller and local titles which faced the prospect of crippling costs for telling the truth. We look forward to the Media Bill becoming law at the earliest opportunity and the long-overdue repeal of this chilling piece of legislation.”
Responding to The King’s Speech, in which The King said legislation would be brought forward to “protect public interest journalism,” News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith said yesterday: “We welcome the government’s commitment to repealing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act through the inclusion of the Media Bill in The King’s Speech today. We hope that the Bill will become law quickly, removing this pernicious threat to press freedom from the statute book once and for all.”Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.