Gary Lineker is a Hacked Off backer and high profile supporter of Section 40. Last night the respected media law expert David Banks explained to Lineker why Section 40 is so dangerous: because it will charge newspapers costs when corrupt, powerful people make vexatious legal claims against them. Lineker extraordinarily tried to argue that no one makes libel threats against newspapers with the aim of killing true stories:
As Banks and several others pointed out to Lineker, this is demonstrably untrue. Some examples: police boss Gordon Anglesea obtained libel damages from two papers and threatened many others before eventually being convicted of child abuse. The Guardian received legal threats from over a hundred clients of HSBC’s Swiss bank when they investigated their leaked account data. Last year Guido received a number of legal threats over true stories, for example from Nick Clegg. Vexatious legal threats aiming to shut down news stories happen every week, this is an irrefutable fact. One which the worryingly naive Lineker refused to acknowledge.
Lineker then called for collective punishment of the national media, local newspapers, the entire magazine industry and student papers, justified in his mind because of “the Sun and Mail”. When Guido pointed out the problem with this non-argument, he replied:
I.e. The newspapers Gary has a personal problem with.
These three exchanges show the issue with Lineker, Max Mosley, Hacked Off, Impress and the Section 40 lobby. They are rich celebrities with personal vendettas against the press, either naive or wilfully blind to the facts, unable to offer any reasonable arguments other than ill-thought out policies driven by their own prejudices. Lineker revealed a lot about the people behind Section 40 last night, there are just five days left for it to be canned…