MPs back chequebook journalism disclosure bill

Editors are facing MPs’ demands to disclose how much they pay for information when publishing or broadcasting stories.

Tory MP Gary Streeter has secured the support of the House of Commons to introduce a private member’s Bill requiring the disclosure of payments.

Streeter, MP for South-West Devon, insisted journalists would continue to be allowed to protect their sources.

‘My Bill does not demand the disclosure of the source’s identity, simply a sentence at the end of each broadcast or article stating whether or not the chequebook had been used, and if so, how much.”

He dismissed the Press Complaints Commission as a ‘toothless tiger’and he added that the media had more power than a junior minister.

‘We have this powerful beast prowling around our country, trashing lives and pronouncing judgments, and the reader does not have the first idea about how their stories were obtained and how much blood money was paid for the destruction of a reputation. It is time to bring that to an end.”

His Media (Transparency and Disclosure) Bill is sponsored by 11 other MPs.

Among them are David Curry, former Financial Times journalist; fellow Tories Angela Browning, Sir George Young and David Burrowes; Labour MPs Tony Wright, Frank Field, Tom Clarke, Janet Dean, Greg Pope and Karen Buck; and Liberal Democrat Colin Breed.

Not one MP opposed the Bill when it was given a formal first reading.

Streeter can have it printed at taxpayers’ expense before its second reading on 9 October.

However, it is unlikely to make further progress because of lack of Parliamentary time.

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