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Press Standards, Privacy and Libel
HC 362-I, Second Report of Session 2009-10 – Volume I: Report, Together with Formal Minutes
- House of Commons – Culture, Media and Sport Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
The Committee's inquiry addresses concerns that the operation of libel laws and the impact of costs were stifling press freedom. 'Press Standards, Privacy and Libel (HC 362-I)' also considers the balance between personal privacy and press freedom, and the increasing use of injunctions and super-injunctions. It examines press standards in the UK, particularly considering Madeleine McCann's disappearance, the suicides in and around Bridgend in 2008 and phone hacking and blagging.
The Committee does not consider that it would be right to legislate on privacy. The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) should amend its Code to include a requirement that journalists notify the subject of their articles prior to publication, subject to a 'public interest' test. The report also assesses the damage so called 'libel tourism' has caused to the UK's reputation as a country which protects free speech and freedom of expression. In cases where the UK is not the primary domicile or place of business of the claimant or defendant, the claimant should face additional hurdles before being allowed to bring a case.
There is an urgent need to control defamation litigation costs more effectively. Competitive and commercial factors led to an inexcusable lowering of press standards in the gathering and publishing of 'news' about the McCann case, and self-regulation signally failed.
The PCC should be renamed the Press Complaints and Standards Commission, reflecting its role as a regulator, not just a complaints handling service. The regulator should have the power to fine its members where it believes that the departure from the Code of Practice is serious enough to warrant a financial penalty.
|Format||Paperback||Published||24 Feb 2010|
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