Local Newspapers Vow To Fight Crippling Legislation

Bosses at Newsquest - the owners of the Halesowen, Stourbridge and Dudley News, are calling on readers to help fight Government legislation which threatens the future of the local press.

The 'Section 40' penalty is a response to the national press phone hacking scandal which could become law.

Under this legislation, part of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, newspapers face paying both sides’ court costs in libel and privacy cases - even if they win. The fear is that his could lead to regular claims made against publishers by claimants safe in the knowledge that, whatever the outcome, all costs are covered by the defendant.

It would apply to any media organisation, whether national or regional, who are not part of a Royal Charter-backed press regulator. It could potentially hammer smaller newspapers with eye-watering legal costs even if their journalism is verified as fair and accurate in court. Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of Newsquest, said: 

"We have no doubt the consequences of this would be devastating for the local press, and for the principle of press freedom in our democratic society.

"It would change the face of our free press as we know it – but you can help us by responding to the Government consultation.

Between now and January 10th, we are asking our readers to respond online or by sending an email to presspolicy@culture.gov.uk offering your views.

Mr Faure Walker added: 

"Journalists and newspapers have proudly spoken up for our readers since the world’s oldest newspaper, the Berrow’s Worcester Journal, hit the streets in 1690.

"Now we need readers to speak up for us."


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