More than 5,000 individuals have responded to the Government consultation calling for it enact Section 40 in full thus forcing UK publishers into a state-backed system of press regulation.
This is the number who have responded through the form on the website of campaign group Hacked Off.
Set against this there has been a mountain of opposition against enacting Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act voiced by UK news publishers.
Section 40 states that news publishers who are not signed up to a press regulator which complies with Parliament’s Royal Charter on press regulation must pay both sides’ costs in libel and privacy actions that they win.
The law has been kept on ice by the Government since it was passed by Parliament in 2013. A Government consultation which asks whether it should finally enact Section 40, reform it or scrap it closes on Tuesday 10 January.
Nearly every national newspaper, and many regional ones, have printed editorials calling for the law to be scrapped and urging their readers to write in to the consultation.
Non-regulated titles such as The Guardian, Financial Times, Evening Standard and Private Eye also want Section 40 to be repealed.
Those opposing Section 40 include:
- Every major UK newspaper publisher
- The News Media Association (which represents most UK newspaper and magazine publishers)
- The News Media Alliance (which represents more than 2,000 US publications)
- The European Publishers Council
- News Media Europe (which represents more than 2,000 publications)
- The World Association of Newspapers and Newspaper Publishers (which represents 18,000 publications)
- Index on Censorship
- The Society of Editors
- Chartered Institute of Journalists
- Press Gazette.
Those backing its implementation include:
- Hacked Off
- Article 19 (provided “damages or costs do not amount to a disproportionate burden”)
- The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.
The National Union of Journalists has yet to finalise its position on Section 40.
If Section 40 is enacted, most UK news publishers (online and print) would be subject to it. Only members of Royal Charter-recognised regulator Impress would be immune.
The regulator which most UK newspapers and magazines belong to, IPSO, could change its constitution to comply with the Royal Charter, but this would require it to provide libel and privacy disputes arbitration which is free to claimants – a move which publishers fear could open them up to more payouts.
Under the arbitration scheme run by Royal Charter-recognised regulator, Impress, publishers must pay arbitration costs of up to £3,500 and can be forced to pay claimants’ legal fees of up to £3,000.
Many UK news publishers object on principle to being part of a state-backed press regulation scheme. Many also have concerns that Impress is almost entirely funded (albeit indirectly) by press reform campaigner Max Mosley.
Hacked Off’s view on enacting Section 40:
“The Government should keep the promise it made to the victims of press abuse, to the public and to Parliament.
“The Government should not cravenly seek to curry favour with the press industry lobby by betraying the victims of press abuse and reneging on its commitments.
“Nothing has changed since section 40 was enacted to change the need for it. Press standards remain low, the press remains largely unregulated, public confidence in newspapers and their pretend regulator IPSO is rock bottom.
“Section 40 commencement will guarantee access to affordable justice for claimants and should make the press industry join a recognised regulator to achieve the consequential costs benefits. The effective regulation that follows will serve the public interest by raising newspapers’ standards, improving trust in newspaper journalism, and providing remedy for complainants.”
Impress on enacting Section 40:
“Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 forms an integral part of the post-Leveson framework for independent and effective self-regulation of the press. Section 40 is not a shock to the system – it is the system and needs to be commenced without delay. It creates benefits for joining a recognised regulator – which will give publishers new freedoms to pursue investigative journalism – and disbenefits for refusing to join. The fact that dominant publishers don’t like section 40 simply shows that it provides a meaningful incentive. It is the only option on the table that will advance the cause of independent and effective press regulation and access to justice.”
The Society of Editors on why Section 40 should be scrapped:
“Under the cover of the Leveson Inquiry that examined wrongdoing by a small number of journalists, which has already been dealt with in the criminal and civil courts, the new rules would penalise papers even if they prove in court that they had printed the truth to inform the public about matters they are entitled to know.
“The legislation is part of scheme to force newspapers to join a regulator backed by a Royal Charter dreamed up by politicians at a late night meeting over beer and pizzas.
“This flies in the face of fundamental rights of the freedom of the press, freedom of expression, the public’s right to receive information, and the first principle of justice – that it should be fair.
“If the Section 40 orders are introduced, the constant threat of legal action would have a devastating effect on reporting. Newspapers outside a Royal Charter recognised regulator will be faced with the threat of legal action by those who wish to suppress stories that are in the public interest by relying on the presumption that newspapers will be forced to pay their legal costs regardless of whether they win or lose.”
The News Media Association:
“Under this system anyone will be able to bring a legal claim against a newspaper’s journalism which the newspaper will have to finance even if the claim is false and without merit. It will be a bonanza for the unscrupulous, a field day for opportunistic lawyers, and will lead to timid journalism and the risk of some newspaper titles being forced to close.
“Newspapers are told that they can avoid this if they join Impress, a Max Mosley funded organisation which has been approved by the government funded Press Recognition Panel. But newspapers will not do so because they are determined to preserve the freedom of the press. But also, because they believe that Impress should never have been recognised. It is made up of people whose published opinions make clear that they have a visceral hatred for many of our newspapers, and that they see regulation as a way of controlling free speech”
Press coverage against Section 40 (source News Media Association):
- Recorder Comment: The Year Ahead (Methodist Recorder, 6 January 2017)
- Don’t let politicians kill off your local papers (Maidenhead Advertiser, 5 January 2017)
- Why we need your help on Leveson’s Section 40 (The Echo, 5 January 2017)
- Press regulation will be a boon to anti-journalists like Katie Hopkins (The Spectator, 5 January 2017)
- Curbs on the press (Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director, European Publishers Council, The Times, 5 January 2017)
- A law that loads the dice in favour of criminals (Andrew Norfolk, The Times, 5 January 2017)
- Revealed, the scare tactics of the men who want to shackle the Press: The head of the world’s most popular gay news website exposes an attempt to bully him into submitting to Max Mosley’s press regulator (Daily Mail, 5 January 2017)
- After 20 years of scam-busting, a new law could mean victory for the crooks and the end of my investigations (Daily Mirror, 5 January 2017)
- Newspapers rally to protect press freedom by highlighting public disapproval for Max Mosley-backed regulator (The Drum, 4 January 2017)
- Join us in the crucial fight to protect your right to know (Cambrian News, 4 January 2017)
- Poll shows the British public back an industry-funded newspaper regulator (Ipswich Star, 4 January 2017)
- The British press could soon be at the mercy of its enemies (CapX, 4 January 2017)
- Help us defend freedom of the press in the UK as section 40 puts papers under threat (St Albans and Harpenden Review, 4 January 2017)
- SECTION 40: Help us fight new law that threatens press freedom (The Bolton News, 4 January 2017)
- Newspapers seek to tell the truth, we shouldn’t be punished for that (Manchester Evening News, 4 January 2017)
- Government threatens existence of free press through Section 40 of Crime and Courts Act (Swindon Advertiser, 4 January 2017)
- YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW: Help us fight section 40 legal threat to your right to be told the truth (Leigh Journal, 4 January 2017)
- Just one person in 20 supports press regulation funded by rich and powerful (Birmingham Mail, 4 January 2017)
- Public rejects wealthy donor funding model for Press regulation (Scottish Newspaper Society, 4 January 2017)
- Only 4% of people trust the planned new model to regulate the press (Borehamwood and Elstree Times, 4 January 2017)
- Poll shows British public back industry funded newspaper regulator (Liverpool Echo, 4 January 2017)
- Political threat to Press Freedom is “astonishingly illiberal and illogical” (UKIP, 4 January 2017)
- YouGov Poll: Public Rejects Impress’ Wealthy Donor Funding Model (Peterborough Telegraph, 4 January 2017)
- Majority of British adults support press regulator funded by newspaper industry, survey shows (Press Gazette, 4 January 2017)
- Only 4% of people trust the planned new model to regulate the press (WalesOnline, 4 January 2017)
- Public rejects Impress’ wealthy donor funding model (Newbury Weekly News, 4 January 2017)
- Tighter press controls not priority, say 99% of voters (The Times, 4 January 2017)
- Mosley rebuffed after public says newspapers should regulate themselves (The Daily Telegraph, 4 January 2017)
- CENSORSHIP BLOW Only FOUR per cent of Brits believe the super-rich and wealthy – like tycoon Max Mosley – ‘should fund Press regulator’ and rate it low on priority list for 2017 (The Sun, 4 January 2017)
- Don’t let politicians destroy press freedom, act now (Metro, 4 January 2017)
- That don’t impress me much, say public of Max Mosley-backed press regulator’s funding structure (City AM, 4 January 2017)
- Industry claims public backing in Section 40 battle after new poll (HoldtheFrontPage, 4 January 2017)
- Public deeply opposed to press regulators funded by wealthy individuals (Press and Journal, 4 January 2017)
- Only 4% back press regulation that is funded by the rich and powerful (Daily Mirror, 4 January 2017)
- Karen Bradley needs to stand up to this threat to the press – Melanie McDonagh (Evening Standard, 3 January 2017)
- If another country had a press law like Section 40, Britain would condemn it for persecuting journalists (The Daily Telegraph, 3 January 2017)
- Forcing newspapers to pay their opponents legal costs even if they win are ‘extremely fair,’ insists Max Mosley, who threatens to fund state-backed press regulator for a ‘very long time’ (Daily Mail, 3 January 2017)
- Putting this rabble in charge of the Press would be like putting the Kray Twins in charge of the Police Complaints Commission: RICHARD LITTLEJOHN on why we don’t want Left-wing bigots deciding what you can read in your paper (Daily Mail, 3 January 2017)
- Only the guilty will cheer curbs on the press (The Times, 3 January 2017)
- Why we cannot give up 200 years of press freedom without a fight (Birmingham Mail, 2 January 2017)
- Do you want to gag the truth? Why new law will silence the free press (Daily Mirror, 2 January 2017)
- Sun Editor Tony Gallagher Calls Plan To Bill Newspapers In Court Cases They Win ‘Insane’ (Huffington Post, 2 January 2017)
- Letter to Editor – Press Freedom is Too Valuable to be Cast Aside So Carelessly (Eastern Daily Press, 2 January 2017)
- Legal cost plans ‘attempt to blackmail press into signing up to regulator’ (East Lothian Courier, 2 January 2017)
- When winning means losing — and the price of publishing becomes too high (The Sunday Times, 1 January 2017)
- Don’t let politicians destroy Press freedom: The rotten rogues’ charter could cripple local papers like mine, says one editor-in-chief (Daily Mail, 1 January 2017)
- Chance to add voice to Shropshire Star’s fight over newspaper legislation (Shropshire Star, 31 December 2016)
- Is Justice Served if the Press is Silenced? (The Lancashire Evening Post, 30 December 2016)
- Fight for Right to Save the Truth (The Sun, 30 December 2016)
- Help us defend freedom of the press in the UK as section 40 puts papers under threat (Herts and Essex Observer, 30 December 2016)
- David Blunkett: This threat to Press freedom is so wrong – and I speak as a victim of hacking (Daily Mail, 30 December 2016)
- Britain’s free press is under threat (The Spectator, 29 December 2016)
- YOUR newspaper needs YOUR help NOW! Press freedom is under threat. (Gazette & Herald, 29 December)
- Threat to Silence Investigative Journalism (The Sun, 29 December 2016)
- Jacob Rees Mogg: Section 40 will kill off the free local press. It must be stopped (The Telegraph, 29 December 2016)
- Don’t let politicians destroy Press freedom: Act NOW if you want to help defend the right to read a website like MailOnline (Daily Mail, 28 December 2016)
- Newspapers in Peril (The Times, 26 December 2016)
- In 2017, further interference from the state could spell the end for press freedom (Independent, 26 December 2016)
- Implementation of Section 40 would be a disaster for press freedom in the UK: Will Gore (Belfast Telegraph, 26 December 2016)
- Government legislation could mean the end of a free press – but you can help (Kent Live, 26 December 2016)
- JEREMY CLARKSON Help fight the Government’s plan to silence the free Press – and save your own freedom (The Sun, 24 December 2016)
- ‘For hundreds of years, Britain’s commitment to a free press has helped make this country a beacon of freedom for the world… But all this is now under threat from MPs and Lords’ ( The Daily Telegraph, 23 December 2016)
- Unfair new Press laws would lead to censorship, warn peers (Daily Mail, 22 December 2016)
- A bad law that must go (Evening Standard, 22 December 2016)
- Bradley must face down the foes of the free press (ConservativeHome, 22 December 2016)
- You can help us fight back against an attack on press freedom in the UK (Teesside Gazette, 22 December 2016)
- JUDGE RINDER Section 40 law is a threat to the press – it’s there to protect privacy… not celebrities’ right to be hypocrites (Judge Rinder, The Sun, 22 December 2016)
- Alan Moses: We must fight to prevent the coming attack on press freedom (Evening Standard, 22 December 2016)
- NME response to consultation on the Leveson Inquiry and its implementation (News Media Europe, 22 December 2016)
- Stop the snowflake press that the cheats, charlatans and corrupt want you to read (Daily Mirror, 22 December 2016)
- Section 40 jeopardises press freedom (Index on Censorship, 21 December 2016)
- New laws will silence brilliant investigative journalism (i, 21 December 2016)
- Top 2017 New Year’s resolution: help keep the British press free (WAN-IFRA, 21 December 2016)
- Don’t let politicians destroy Press freedom: Act NOW if you want to help defend the right to read a website like MailOnline (MailOnline, 21 December 2016)
- Ministers should leave the press ‘well alone’, former Supreme Court judge says (The Daily Telegraph, 21 December 2016)
- From Undressed to Impress (Country Squire Magazine, 21 December 2016)
- Regional editorial chiefs hit back over Section 40 ‘human shields’ jibe (HoldtheFrontPage, 21 December 2016)
- Local press editor hits back at Hacked Off over ‘human shield’ jibe on press regulation (Press Gazette, 21 December 2016)
- Help the press to protect freedom of speech (South Wales Argus, 21 December 2016)
- Have your say on the future of press regulation (i, 21 December 2016)
- Section 40 of Crime and Courts Act 2013 threatens Britain’s free press – we need your help to stop it (KentOnline, 21 December 2016)
- STEPHEN GLOVER: Mad. Immoral. How justice is being subverted to force newspapers to kow-tow to Mosley’s band of Press-haters (Daily Mail, 21 December 2016)
- The Government crusade against press freedom and why we should all be fighting it (WalesOnline, 20 December 2016)
- Competition: write a response to the government’s ‘consultation’ on press freedom (The Spectator, 20 December 2016)
- Stop our free speech from being torn to shreds by backing press freedom in face of Max Mosley’s tyranny (Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun, 19 December 2016)
- Will you have your say on the future of press freedom? (Sunderland Echo, 19 December 2016)
- An unacceptable assault on a free press (The Telegraph, 19 December 2016)
- Impress regulators say they “hate” Daily Mail “scum” (Order Order, 20 December 2016)
- London Press Club members are urged to back the campaign for freedom of the Press and oppose Section 40 (London Press Club, 19 December 2016)
- Impress regulators seek to financially ruin three newspapers (Order Order, 19 December 2016)
- Mosley puts a kinky boot into the press to get his bondage fix (Rod Liddle, The Sunday Times, 18 December 2016)
- Local journalism will die if those who claim to champion a free press get their way (David Higgerson, 18 December 2016)
- THE SUN SAYS The Government must act NOW to protect the free press and keep our important investigative journalism alive (The Sun, 17 December 2016)
- Say no to the shackling of the press (spiked, 16 December 2016)
- The battle for press freedom in the UK may have to be fought all over again (Fraser Nelson, The Telegraph, 16 December 2016)
- If you value your local paper, help to save it (Romsey Advertiser, 16 December 2016)
- Feature: Time to act to help save your paper (Maidenhead Advertiser, 16 December 2016)
- State-backed press regulator wants to ban Daily Mail (Order Order, 16 December 2016)
- Freedom of the press and a state regulator (Lord Lester, The Times, 16 December 2016)
- YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW: Help us fight section 40 legal threat to your right to be told the truth (Telegraph & Argus, 16 December)
- John McLellan: Regulator that is far from being impartial (The Herald, 15 December 2016)
- ‘Why press freedom is vital in our democracy’, south Essex campaigners speak out over controversial government proposals (Basildon Echo, 15 December 2016)
- Section 40 is an ‘unfair and undemocratic attack on free speech’, warn newspaper editors (The Courier, 15 December 2016)
- Libel law change threatens our paper (The Sheerness Times Guardian, 15 December 2016)
- KM Group editor Leo Whitlock warns of threat to Press freedom (Canterbury Extra, 15 December 2016)
- A free press must not be bullied by the state (David Aaronovitch, The Times, 14 December 2016)
- How you can help to defend this country’s free press (Eastern Daily Press, 14 December 2016)
- Future of local newspapers is at stake (South London Press, 13 December 2016)
- Section 40 powers forcing papers to pay the losers’ costs could cripple local papers (Watford Observer, 13 December 2016)
- The future of the free press is now in your hands (Hampshire Chronicle, 12 December 2016)
- COMMENT: New laws will cause profound damage to local press (East London and West Essex Guardian, 11 December 2016)
- If you value your local paper … help to save it (Southern Daily Echo, 10 December 2016)
- ‘It’s for the rich and powerful’: MPs raise concerns on press legislation plans (Basildon Echo, 8 December 2016)
- Help us stop this legislation which threatens existence of local press (South London Press, 09 December 2016)
- Resist this threat to your local newspaper’s survival (Nottingham Post, 7 December 2016)
- COMMENT: How you can help save local newspapers: Say ‘no’ to Section 40 (Evesham Journal, 7 December 2016)
- COMMENT: How you can help save local newspapers: Say ‘no’ to Section 40 (Worcester News, 7 December 2016)
- SoE launches ‘Save your right to know’ campaign against Section 40 (Society of Editors, 2 December 2016)
- Government allows digital giants to publish with impunity while proposing to regulate newspapers out of existence (Press Gazette, 2 December 2016)
- UK’s Official Press Regulator Accused Of Using “Scare Emails” To Sign Up Outlets (Buzzfeed, 30 November 2016)
- Snoopers Charter and Section 40 costs threat set to push UK yet further down Reporters Without Borders press freedom index
- (Rebecca Vincent, Reporters Without Borders, 28 November 2016)
- Press freedom: Express & Star Editor KEITH HARRISON on why we need YOU to speak up for us now (Express and Star, 25 November 2016)
- Editors attack ‘medieval’ regulation as MPs prepare for legal costs vote (HoldtheFrontPage, 15 November 2016)
- MP stands up for rights of press over ‘chilling effect’ of proposed new law (The Argus, 14 November 2016)
- Increased press regulation is not only an affront to free speech – it’s bad for PR too (Peter Curtain, PR Week, 4 November 2016)
- Press regulation: a return to media normality? (Ray Snoddy, Mediatel, 2 November 2016)
- Section 40: a ruinous penalty on honest journalism (i, 2 November 2016)
- Threat set to push UK yet further down Reporters Without Borders press freedom index (Rebecca Vincent, Reporters Without Borders, 28 November 2016)
- Press freedom is too important to be subject to official regulation (David Pannick QC, 10 November 2016)
- May’s state controls will destroy the press (Matthew Parris, The Times, 22 October 2016)