Scottish teen law 'will not hit journalists'

Warnings
that a Scottish law could criminalise teen magazines for printing agony
aunt columns have been rejected by the Scottish parliament.

The
Teen Magazine Arbitration Panel (TMAP), the publishing industry’s
self-regulatory body, has been trying to get the law, which is intended
to prevent paedophilia, changed to protect journalists and youth
workers.

Under the Protection of Children and Prevention of
Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill as it now stands, anyone, including
magazine journalists, can be banned from communicating on sex-ual
issues with a child.

Anyone who breaches the ban could end up in jail for up to five years.

Dr
Fleur Fisher, chairwoman of TMAP, said: “The intention is to make
grooming of children by predatory paedophiles a criminal offence, but
current drafting within the Bill lacks the clarity to differentiate
between actions to protect the child and those to harm.”

Scottish
deputy justice minister, Hugh Henry, has promised to publish relevant
advice on the law for chief constables to avoid it being applied to
magazines.

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