Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Preston on IPSO + RIPA, Leveson trapping free press

As I've said before, I treat Peter Preston's columns with caution, but this is a very useful piece not just as an expression of doubt over IPSO (some praise too), but on government moves that are stymying the free press. Like Greenslade, he sharply condemns the Met and CPS for bringing the court cases against Sun journalists, once more thrown out by a jury recently.

The key point really is how he sees the government, and political Establishment generally, as having engineered an extraordinary attack on press freedom, one which he likens to Burma! 

Here's an excerpt:
Moses is toiling intelligently to find common ground. Let’s hope he succeeds. But note how the creeping mantra of privacy prevents inquiry – except by the state. See how journalists can be threatened on the flimsiest of “misconduct in public office” grounds. Watch for whatever government we get next to start pondering “action”.

There’s a balance. Don’t just think where the press went wrong; think where the police and politicians go wildly wrong, too. Think of computers smashed in newspaper basements. Think of reporters arrested for writing about duff army kit in Iraq. Think of Big Cyril. Think, if you sit in a courtroom, that the public, 12-strong, defines its own interest best – whether the trial itself, with its “accredited correspondents”, is secret or not. This isn’t Burma, you may smugly say. But pray: what exactly is it?
That may sound extreme, but its a well constructed argument. Journalists face jail for doing what was part of the basic job description, talking to public servants, if not in an open, registered meeting. Public servants likewise face strong sanctions for the same. Public outrage over press intrusion, he argues, has been used to bring about extraordinary limits on press and public servants alike which doesn't sit well with a supposed democracy.
Moreover, he writes of how RIPA has been (ab)used to completely strip away another fundamental of democracy, the right of journalists to privacy, a seemingly ironic point. It has become clear that police and security services have been snooping on journalists' communications, blowing away the right to protect sources.

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