Press regulation system could become a "dogs dinner", says MP
CLEETHORPES MP Martin Vickers has voiced concern that a new system of press regulation could end up being “a dog’s dinner”.
He said the “rather non-specific wording” of a new Royal Charter underpinning an independent regulator could affect local newspapers like the Grimsby Telegraph.
Mr Vickers was one of 14 Conservative MPs to vote against “exemplary damages” in relation to newspapers and websites that refuse to be recognise the new regulator.
But despite the rebellion, an overwhelming majority of MPs backed a new press law following the recommendations of Lord Leveson.
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Mr Vickers said: “Exemplary damages and the rather non-specific wording in the Bill could drag in publications like the Grimsby Telegraph and similar local and regional media, and even things like village newssheets.
“There’s such a lack of clarity that the whole thing could end up being a bit of a dog’s dinner.”
The Conservative commentator and former MP Paul Goodman hailed Mr Vickers as one of a “tiny band” of “heroes of free speech” for voting against the fines.
Meanwhile the Newspaper Society (NS) warned the Royal Charter system could “place a crippling burden” on the UK’s 1,100 local newspapers.
NS president Adrian Jeakings said: “Lord Justice Leveson found that the UK’s local media had nothing to do with the phone hacking scandal which prompted the Inquiry.
“Indeed, he praised regional and local newspapers for their important social and democratic role and recommended that the regulatory model proposed should not provide an added burden to our sector.
“Yet the Royal Charter proposals agreed by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour…would place a crippling burden on the UK’s 1100 local newspapers inhibiting freedom of speech and the freedom to publish.
“Local newspapers remain fiercely opposed to any form of statutory involvement or underpinning in the regulation of the press. A free press cannot be free if it is dependent on and accountable to a regulatory body recognised by the state.”