Hacked Off Sensationalism Over Libel Costs Rethink

John Whittingdale has said he will think again about the ill-thought-out plan to ban publishers from claiming back costs in libel cases – even when they win. The draconian policy means news organisations that aren’t signed up to a Royal Charter regulator will still have to pay costs when they win, crazily meaning they will be forced to stump up huge fees even when they are found to have done nothing wrong. Whitto says:

“I am not convinced the time is right for the introduction of these costs provisions. Given the changes under way within the industry, the introduction of the new exemplary damages provisions, and the pressures on the industry, I question whether this additional step, now, will be positive and will lead to the changes I want to see. My mind is not made up, and I will want to examine the matter further in the coming weeks before taking any decision.”

Hardly unreasonable, right? This is Hacked Off Evan Harris’ screaming response:

“Victims will be distressed and the public dismayed to hear that the government is considering not keeping the promise it made to those innocent people whose lives have been destroyed by press misconduct, and reneging on the post-Leveson cross-party agreement signed by all the party leaders 30 months ago and passed overwhelmingly by parliament”

Is this one minor, entirely reasonable rethink really “reneging” on their promise? Will “examining the matter further” really cause “distress“? Will the public really be “dismayed“? If only there was some sort of regulator to keep Hacked Off’s ridiculous – and patently untrue – sensationalism in check…


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