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…

Three Board Members Banned Following Guido’s Impress File

Readers will remember MediaGuido’s Impress File, which exposed how board members on Max Mosley’s state-endorsed press regulator were on the record saying they “hate” newspapers, want to ban them and put them out of business. Not the sort of positions a fair-minded regulator should be taking, Guido thought…

It turns out Impress agree. Press Gazette reports it has banned its own chief executive Jonathan Heawood, who Guido revealed compared newspapers to Nazis, from sitting on its decision-making committee for large publishers. It has also banned board member Emma Jones, who compared the Mail to Hitler, and Maire Messenger Davies, who equated the paper to Nazis and fascists.

The farcical situation is effectively an admission from Impress that it is not fit for purpose. How can Heawood, Jones and Davies possibly keep their positions on the board when their own organisation has deemed them unfit to regulate newspapers? Shambles…

Max Mosley’s Demand to “End Coloured Immigration”

Why does Impress funder Max Mosley want to gag the press? So they are prevented from publishing stories like this in today’s Sun, revealing Mosley once wrote a letter demanding an end to “coloured immigration” and defending his fascist father.

His opinion of “the Jew” is a nice touch too. How can Impress take £4 million from a man with such views? And why has the government given them state recognition?

UPDATE: Worth remembering that Spanky Max gave Tom Watson a £200,000 donation.  Strange alliance…

Stop the Gagging Order – Save the Free Press

MediaGuido’s Impress File has exposed Max Mosley’s state-recognised press regulator as a bunch of cranks who are unfit for purpose. Impress is the press regulator which hates the press. Now any paper which refuses to be put in Mosley’s shackles faces financial ruin.

Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, cooked up by Hacked Off and Brian Leveson, is designed to punish newspapers for reporting the truth. Even if a paper publishes a story that is completely true it will be forced to pay costs should a legal case be brought. Even if a newspaper wins a case, it will still have to fork out for the other side’s fees. It’s a charter for anyone who fancies it – from crime bosses to celebrities, from local councillors to foreign dictators – to try their hand at shutting down stories exposing wrongdoing. 

You have just a few days to let Culture Secretary Karen Bradley know that gagging the free press with ruinous costs is unacceptable. The consultation closes at 5pm Tuesday 10 January. Take 10 seconds now to make a stand against cover-ups and for free expression, by completing this form:

If you want to read the next MPs’ expenses scandal, sign the form above…

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Lineker Reveals Naivety and Personal Vendettas of Section 40 Lobby

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…

Just 4% Public Support for Mosley’s Impress

Max Mosley was on the radio yesterday promoting his pet press regulator Impress, pledging more cash on top of the £4 million he has already spent bankrolling his vindictive revenge project. Today a YouGov poll finds just 4% of the public support a media watchdog funded by “rich and powerful” trusts like Mosley’s Impress. 49% say any press regulator should be funded by the press itself, rather than a millionaire with a vendetta. Somewhat outside the margin of error. Read WikiGuido on how Section 40 will gag the next expenses scandal, and why the Impress regulator is unfit for purpose here

Max Mosley’s Today Programme Porkies

This morning Impress bankroller and spanker-in-chief Max Mosley appeared on the Today programme to claim the regulator is “completely independent of me”. Untrue: Mosley has donated £4 million to Impress. It wouldn’t exist without him.

Mosley explained the sinister Section 40 measure:

“If a newspaper refuses to belong to a recognised regulator then of course if it’s taken to court it will end up paying both sides.”

That “recognised regulator” would be Mosley’s own Impress, which due to its public pronouncements ranting bile and invective against newspapers and journalists, no mainstream newspaper will join. Impress and Section 40 would have newspapers bankrupted by corrupt MPs, dodgy traders, and c-list celebs pursuing vexatious cases free-of-charge…

Cheap and accessible out-of-court arbitration is already available through a pilot-scheme run by current regulator IPSO, a key Leveson recommendation implemented. IPSO also has the power to fine newspapers up to £1 million through its parallel complaints and mediation process, force them to print its adjudications and dictate the wording of corrections. Mosley then stoked calls for Leveson II:

“It’s no good pretending a few criminal trials revealed what was really going on, it didn’t.”

By “a few criminal trials” Mosley means jack-booted probe Operation Elveden, the failed crusade against popular newspapers. Elveden coppers dragged 34 innocent journalists from their beds at dawn to the dock without resulting in a single conviction, costing the taxpayer £15 million. Mosley’s Today interview was as honest as his regulator is impartial…



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Quote of the Day

John McDonnell does a funny:

“I’m told there are a group of KGB colonels who are suing The Sun for associating themselves with us.”

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