The letter we've sent to all our local MPs ahead of crucial Commons vote
PUBLISHED: 18:15 07 May 2018
Dear Member of Parliament,
I am writing to ask for your support as MPs prepare to vote on measures which could have a profoundly damaging impact on local and regional media, including the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.
On Wednesday, the House of Commons will vote on amendments to the Data Protection Bill, which could begin a new inquiry into all media and bring the draconian Section 40 costs sanctions into law.
There is no need for this costly Leveson 2-style inquiry. Publishers and editors have already faced up to their responsibilities since the Leveson Report.
In addition, the Section 40 costs sanctions pose a grave threat to the viability of local journalism. An amendment tabled by Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party, would bring this into law, with catastrophic effects.
It would require publishers to pay all the claimants’ costs of legal actions brought against them as well as their own – whether they win or lose. This could lead to many vexatious claims and poses a huge threat to investigative journalism.
Despite modifications purporting to exempt local papers, the cost sanctions would still impact on 85% of the local press.
The amendment punishes local and national newspapers (including the EADT and Ipswich Star) merely for lawfully deciding to join the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) – which already provides robust and fair regulation – and rejecting the Royal Charter system for reasons of principle. A state-sponsored system of press regulation would be damaging to freedom of expression.
Local and regional media are a vital part of our democracy – we take our responsibilities seriously at the EADT and Ipswich Star, and uphold an extremely high set of journalistic standards, underpinned by the law of the land and effective IPSO regulation.
In my view, it is essential that MPs vote down these proposals, which pose such a grave danger to us.
Editor, East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star