MPs voted yesterday, Tuesday, by 301 to 289 to reject an amendment by the House of Lords for a Leveson 2-style inquiry into the media. It was the second time in a week MPs rejected the inquiry.
Labour front benchers said it was inconceivable they would push for Section 40-style costs sanctions again.
After the vote, the News Media Association said: “We welcome the Commons’ clear decision to reject Leveson 2 and punitive costs sanctions and look forward to the early repeal of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.
“Yet another costly statutory inquiry into the news media inevitably would have demonised the entire press for past failings of a few, and led to more recommendations damaging freedom of speech. The ICO’s increased powers must be carefully assessed and we will seek an early meeting with the Information Commissioner. Together with IPSO, and its compulsory arbitration scheme,
newspapers – local, regional and national – are subject to greater accountability in the UK than in any other western democracy.”
Salisbury MP John Glen told Valley News: “As you know, I have always been a strong supporter of the free press. Amendments to the Data Protection Bill would threaten that. The proposed amendments to the Data Protection Bill are trying to introduce Section 40 and reopen the Leveson Inquiry through the back door.
“The Government set out its intention to end the Leveson Inquiry without undertaking Part 2 and to repeal section 40 at the first appropriate opportunity. After conducting a thorough consultation on the Leveson inquiry, the Government determined that that reopening the Leveson Inquiry is not in the public interest, and that Section 40 is no longer necessary.
“Commencing Leveson 2 and implementing Section 40 would restrict press freedom, undermine high quality journalism, and have a significant negative impact on local press, which is already struggling. More than 200 local papers having closed since 2005 and approximately two thirds of local authority areas do not have a daily local newspaper. The commencement of Section 40, even in respect to Data Protection could jeopardise the financial viability of local press, which provides an essential local voice for communities up and down the country.
“A free and sustainable press with effective regulation, and public access to a fair and low cost complaints procedure, can be achieved without resorting to Leveson 2 and Section 40. The Bill protects the confidentiality of sources and supports well run investigative journalism, but does not give journalists a free hand. This strikes the right balance between freedom of expression and the right to privacy.”