The Press, Libel and Privacy (A Little Tangential) Feb 27, 2010 8:43:28 GMT
Post by QPR Report on Feb 27, 2010 8:43:28 GMT
A little tangential. I'm sorry. but if think re Libel charges ...and footballers among others vs the press, I thought was interesting. Can always ignore (And the report is RATHER long!)
Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report into press standards, privacy and libel
UK: Highlights from the CMS report on libel, privacy, and press standards
Posted by Maria Conde on February 26, 2010 at 2:20 PM
]To read various links, click here www.editorsweblog.org/newsrooms_and_journalism/2010/02/uk_highlights_from_the_cms_report_on_lib.php ]
After a long year of looking into the state of the press, the UK Culture, Media, Sports Select Committee has finally released its report on libel, privacy, and press standards, according to journalism.co.uk
The 167-page report completed by a committee appointed by the House of Commons offers recommendations on journalism ethnics to guarantee "a constructive way forward for a free and healthy UK press in the years to come."
According to the report's summary, this inquiry is the "product of the longest, most complex, and wide-ranging inquiry" the Committee has ever undertaken.
The 167-page report opens by establishing that in exchange for freedom of the press, UK press are expected to "uphold certain standards" and to not only be as accurate as possible, but also "mindful of the rights of those who are written about."
The report criticizes the ineffective system of self-regulation of the press under the Press Complaints Commission that came into action in 1991. Since then, both the citizens and politicians have come to question the methods used by the press and the regulator capacities of the PCC.
The report was prompted by, what the committee calls, persistent libelling by the UK press of the McCannon family and others, following the disappearance of their daughter Maddie in Portugal in 2007. The limited interventions the PCC engaged in, as well as the concern over the operation of libel laws in England and Wales prompted this inquiry.
The report is divided into five sections: privacy and breach of confidence, libel and press freedom, costs, press standards, and self-regulation of the press.
Highlights: Privacy and breach of confidence
In the privacy and breach of confidence inquiry, the report analyzes the case brought by Max Mosley against the News of the World, as well as super-injunctions cases.
On privacy, the committee finds that the media is not in agreement as to what kind of privacy laws should be enacted and what acts would breach privacy exactly. It seems like the committee does not believe the privacy of those who are written about matters as much to the media as libel regulation.
Libel and press freedom
This section focuses on the operation of libel law in England and Wales and its impact on press reporting. The committee considered recent cases that touch on what 'responsible journalism' is and how best to avoid criminal libel.
The committee amply discusses the damage that "libel tourists" - a practice by which foreigners enter the UK to sue for libel because UK libel laws are less journalist-friendly - have done to the UK's reputation as a protector of free speech and freedom of expression.
The report believes that the fact that the US felt it had to enact laws to protect its freedom of speech from libel decisions made in other countries should prompt a comprehensive revision of libel law by the UK government.
The committee recommends that when neither of the parties involved live in the UK or have business in the UK, there should be hurdles for them to have their libel cases heard in a UK court.
The committe beli eves criminal libel is "untenable" in a modern society and criminal libel laws should be repealed.
The inquiry natura lly led CMS to be mindful of over-arching concerns about the costs of mounting and defending libel actions and the 'chilling effect' this may have on press freedom. The problem confronting defendants is that litigation can be quite expensive and faced with the prospect of an out-of-court settlement, defendants who are in the right may be forced to settle because o f the rising costs of lawsuits.
The report recommends that costs of libel laws and their operation are looked into and modified by the UK government.
In the press standards section and the level of public confidence in the press, two recent high-profile cases were examined. Madeleine McCann's disappearance and the suicides in and around Bridgend in 2008. The impact of the Guardian in revealing the phone-hacking scandal and blagging - the practice of obtaining information through deception were also considered.
On Maddie's case, the report concludes that competitive and commercial factors lowered the standards of newsgathering. That combined with little factual information led to a number of libel defamatory reporting. The report points to that case as an example of self-regulation failure.
On the phone hacking front, CMS had some harsh words for News of the World and News International executives.
The report criticizes execs from News International for their unwillingness to give up detailed information - which the report refers to as "collective amnesia" - and condemns this behavior because it "reinforces the widely held notion that the press generally regard themselves as unaccountable and that News International in particular has sought to conceal the truth about what really occurred."
(Click here to read more about what the MPs had to say about the News of the World phone-hacking report)
Self-regulation of the press
When it comes to self-regulation of the press, the commission recommends the strengthening of the Press Complaints Commission to stress its regulator function. To encourage self-regulation of the press, the commission recommends that the Government reduce the cost burden in defamation cases but only to those newspapers that take an active role in the PCC.
While News International criticized the findings of the report, claiming it was part of a political agenda, Guardian lauded the CMS product, calling it an "insightful and wide-ranging report...the press has a proud record of shining a light into the darkest corners of our public institutions. As an industry, we need to show we are willing to accept he same level of scrutiny and accountability," said Guardian.
Sources: full CMS report online, Journalism.co.uk