Mar 26 2013
New penalties to punish press are illegal, says peer: Lord Black warns ‘exemplary damages’ plan will fail
The Daily Mail
I see the paedophile Harry Harman got her whore in. Is anyone remotely interested in what the pointless waste of fresh air has to say?
We all know what these new press laws are really about. Like I said last week, if the cunt Cameron thinks he will silence me, he’s madder than what his in-laws are – And that is fucking mad.
My tech guy Carl is right on the fucking ball… Bring it on Mother Fuckers.
- Lord Black said the plans are ‘wrong in principle and fundamentally flawed’
- Believes the ‘exemplary damages’ are objectionable under European law
- He described the proposals as having a ‘chilling effect on investigative journalism’
By TIM SHIPMAN
PUBLISHED: 00:00, 26 March 2013 | UPDATED: 00:42, 26 March 2013
Plans to push newspapers into joining a new press regulator under threat of punitive damages are ‘almost certainly illegal’ and will ultimately collapse, a Tory peer warned last night.
Lord Black of Brentwood, a senior executive with Telegraph Media Group, delivered an outspoken attack on the proposals thrashed out by the three political parties last week.
He described them as a menace to free speech that will have ‘a chilling effect on investigative journalism’.
He spoke out as peers discussed legislation drawn up to implement the recommendations of the inquiry into press standards by Lord Justice Leveson. Under the plans, media organisations that refuse to join an approved regulator could be hit with ‘exemplary’ damages if they lose court cases for libel or invasion of privacy.
But Lord Black denounced that as ‘alien to English law’, where exemplary damages are only used in extreme circumstances.
He said the plans are ‘wrong in principle and fundamentally flawed’.
‘I’m sure they are almost certainly contrary to European law and so will collapse or be struck down,’ he added. ‘I think they are a constitutional nightmare.’
Lord Black quoted from a legal opinion drawn up by Lord Pannick, Desmond Brown QC and Anthony White QC, which warned that the proposals will fall foul of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The legal experts said that punishing newspapers is ‘particularly objectionable’ under European law.
‘To punish the Press for what others may do without punishment is inconsistent with the importance that both domestic and Strasbourg jurisprudence attaches to the freedom of the press.’
Criticising the way the reforms have been rammed through ‘at breakneck speed’, Lord Black said it was ‘very dangerous’ that fundamental issues of freedom of speech were pushed through the Commons after just two hours of debate and intense lobbying from the Hacked Off pressure group.
Lord Black pointed out that the Government’s legislation seeks to use exemplary damages as a stick to encourage newspapers to sign up to the new body.
But loopholes mean that publishers could be hit with exemplary damages in ‘strikingly wide circumstances’ even if they do sign up.
The Government last night tabled an amendment which would prevent those who publish a ‘small scale blog’ from being among those who could be fined.
It was nodded through by peers without a vote. Lord Black’s intervention is significant since he has been a leading player in the industry in drawing up plans for a new regulator.
Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman is said to have privately warned that without Press backing for the reforms, they are doomed.