Thursday, 22 October 2015
LEVESON Will press be forced to pay legal costs win or lose?
The history of press regulation has been one of government fear over press reprisal, thus the 60 year record of blatantly poor self-regulation failing to see any statutory change.
That could be about to change ... though I doubt it; if the Tory government did force through a proposed change on legal costs from libel cases they would unite the entire press in their fury.
The proposal is a good example of why there is no simple solution to the issue of press regulation. Self-regulation is a bad joke that has poorly served the public and clearly failed to improve press standards, although it's too early to judge IPSO which could yet change this tawdry, self-serving history.
Yet the proposed statutory regulation is an appalling, clearly unjust idea! That the bleats of the press barons about government repression and censorship, attacks on democratic principle, lack credibility is a reflection on the industry's low standing, not the arguments they're wielding.
Greenslade puts the case forcefully that allowing anyone to sue a paper without having to pay legal costs (win or lose, the paper picks up the tab) is unfair and would pose a severe threat to the financial viability of papers, never mind the scope for abuse.
Yet...without further reform the scope to wield libel law largely remains an option only for the rich. A well meaning statutory change would both fuel press determination to resist ANY further new regulation and discredit the cause of stronger press regulation!!!
Complex, as I said!