Tough talking on witness payments

Newspapers and industry trade associations are studying a draft change to the Editors’ Code of Practice relating to press payments to trial witnesses.

The code clause has been strengthened before but not enough, apparently, to meet the Lord Chancellor’s requirements. The change in wording envisaged this time deals with some of his points about conditional payments – those made only on conviction or for a bigger sum to be paid if there is a conviction.

The industry hopes to provide such a strongly-worded clause that it will head off statutory penalties for breaching a law.

The code committee’s proposals for change should be with the Lord Chancellor’s department early next month.

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