OPINION: Freedom Of The Press – We Lose It At Our Peril
Freedom of the Press is something we should guard zealously. Today, The Data Protection Bill was meant to be incorporated from EU law into British law which should have been straightforward. However, Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour party, has tabled a motion regarding the Press. He wants any newspaper that is sued for what they have written to be responsible for all costs regardless of whether they are found guilty or found to have told the truth….
You can imagine what this will mean – that anyone can sue a newspaper if they don’t like what has been written about themselves or any subject, without the responsibility of facing court costs at the end. This will seriously curtail the Press’s ability to report on anything without fear of being dragged into huge debt or even bankruptcy eventually! If this gets voted in it will mean the end of Press Freedom in the UK. And it doesn’t end there, there will also be an investigation lasting many months (and costing a huge amount I’m sure) of the press, which seriously inhibits their ability to report the truth. And not just in print, no, it will be online and everywhere else the press may publish… Sadly we are already rated a miserable 40th in the world for press freedom, so sad for a country once so proud of its press freedom… 40th! How shocking!
It’s not the first time press freedom has come under fire of course in the UK. There was the Leveson enquiry in 2015, which we managed to deal with, just. And long before that in 2011 the whole ‘hacking scandal’ was turned into an excuse to harang and persecute journalists just doing their jobs and ended with the closure of a very old English newspaper The News of the World (well known for its regular exposure of liars, fraudsters and charlatans… how convenient! And unnecessary. 168 years of telling the uncomfortable truth gone just like that. So we must fight this. And fight it every time it happens. Again and again and again. They will keep coming back and keep trying to sanction the press but we must be constantly ready to fight back.
It is no surprise to learn that this is being supported by those bastions of free speech Ed Miliband and Max Moseley – the latter of which tried to shut down the free press not long ago to hide his alleged orgies – oh and perhaps some dodgy leaflets he had put his name to many years ago. It is mainly those on the left pushing for this as they see themselves as taking the moral high ground as usual while the rest of us deal with reality and would like to read about it thank you very much! They are justifying tabling this motion as most of the press has declined to sign up to a regulator called Impress as it is mainly funded by – guess who – none other than Max Moseley himself, he of the Nazi orgies. You can see why no one wanted to sign up.
To add to this, some newspapers will be exempt – the left-wing Guardian and The Observer (not many read them nowadays I know…) and various small local papers who have less money – but I guess the high and mighty Liberal Elite would have no interest in (or knowledge of) the local issues reported within their pages. No, this motion is being tabled to control the Press Freedom of the so-called right or centre right-wing press, so despised by max Moseley for personal reasons and of course by the likes of Tom Watson, who has a history of accusations and investigations, having pursued the failed ‘Westminster paedophile Ring’ story, regardless of fact or evidence… can you imagine if he got his hands on the press?
Freedom of the Press means freedom from state interference and sanction, freedom to ‘publish and be damned’, freedom, to tell the truth, to follow a story and report the facts, to say what you saw, no matter how uncomfortable, to give an educated opinion, to say what you know everyone is thinking, to ask difficult questions and hope to find answers. Without it we wouldn’t have had Sue Reid writing about Grooming Gangs trying to expose them long before it was out in the open, we wouldn’t have had any convictions in the Stephen Lawrence case, and so on. We have many wonderful journalists and their hands would be forever tied. All around the world Journalists are imprisoned for just telling the truth, to venturing into dangerous territory armed with nothing other than a notepad and pen. It is our duty to make sure they are published.
We know the press get it wrong sometimes, and the law should deal with that accordingly. But a press controlled by the State? No thank you!
Mrs May has urged for this motion to not go through, and there are those in Labour who will vote against, and I’m sure some Tories who will vote for, it is not clear-cut.
But we must retain our Freedom of the Press – we lose it at our peril – or it will be the beginning of a long, horrible, slippery slope.