Press-Hating Peers Pave Way for Leveson 2

Unelected, unaccountable and unknown to the British reading public, a gang of press-hating peers last night forced a double defeat on the government which could pave the way for Leveson 2. Lords voted by a majority of 29 to effectively green light the proposed second part of the Inquiry. Lengthy Leveson 1 already produced a 2000 page report at a cost of £5.4 million to the taxpayer – and left the press with legal bills in the tens of millions. 

The Conservative manifesto pledged in black-and-white that the Inquiry would not be reopened. Despite this promise, Leveson 2 will now face a vote by MPs in the spring. Commons maths means the outcome is far from certain. Tom Watson can hardly conceal his glee. Cop-thumper Max Mosley will consider it a spankingly good development…

The peers, led by Baroness Hollins, effectively hijacked the Data Protection Bill, twisting consumer protection measures into yet another press-bashing free-for-all. Their illiberal agenda includes introducing measures akin to the harsh Section 40, which would mean newspapers could have to pay both their own and their opponent’s legal costs even if they were successful in data protection cases.

Guido understands government concessions are in play. A ‘press sustainability review’ may be put on the table. There’s a danger opponents of a free press will run away with any concession and try to force through their anti-freedom agenda. The government last night said it will seek to overturn the Lords’ amendments in the Commons.

The press has been publicly scrutinised to an extraordinary level in recent years, put under the spotlight unlike any other industry, with lengthy inquiries and multiple (fruitless) police probes. The threat of yet another inquiry was described in last night’s debate as amounting to “harassment” of the press by the state. Some politicians are still on their hellbent crusade to muzzle the free media, the force that exposes their wrongdoing and holds them to account…




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