Thursday, 5 January 2017

Media Quotes of the Week: From national and local press lead onslaught on Section 40 to whose got the biggest ears Gary Lineker or Sun editor Gallagher?

Lynne Anderson, News Media Association deputy chief executive, quoted by the Sun after a YouGov poll showed just four per cent of people think a press regulator should be funded by donations from wealthy individuals and trusts, the Impress model, compared with 49 per cent who believe it should be funded by the newspaper industry itself: “This survey demonstrates conclusively that a regulatory regime led by Impress – which is completely reliant upon funding from one wealthy individual, Max Mosley, cannot command the confidence of the public...It is also abundantly clear from the poll that there is absolutely no public appetite for further activity from the Government in this area – such as the reopening of the Leveson Inquiry – when there are other much more pressing priorities at hand.”

Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail on press regulator Impress: "It would be like putting the Kray Twins in charge of the Police Complaints Commission and forcing the victims of their crimes to pick up the bill. To conjure up another analogy, how would Max Mosley like it if one of his call girls decided to sue him for spanking her too hard and — win, lose or draw — he was forced to pay all her legal costs?"

Andrew Norfolk in The Times [£]: "My concern, should the government trigger section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, is its likely impact on investigative journalism. Under section 40, any newspaper that declines “voluntarily” to join Impress would be forced to pay its opponent’s legal costs in any claim brought for libel or breach of privacy, even if it won the case. At a stroke, this would destroy the delicate balancing act that invariably surrounds the decision-making process at any responsible newspaper before publishing an article that could expose it to a civil claim in the courts...Be under no illusion. Section 40 ostensibly seeks to protect the weak and the poor, but it would kill investigative print journalism. It would render the rich and powerful unaccountable. To implement such a measure, in a nation that calls itself free and democratic, would be madness."

Tom Bower in The Times [£]: "Reliance on the truth as a defence against greed and chicanery is now endangered by the government’s refusal to rule out implementing section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act. In a nutshell, if a newspaper refuses to register with Impress, the government’s approved regulator bankrolled by Max Mosley and staffed by his anti-media sympathisers, then newspapers will be compelled to pay the costs of claimants even if their claim fails. Crooks like Robert Maxwell could sue, lose their case having been exposed in court as liars, and still receive millions of pounds from the victorious newspaper."

Neil Hodgkinson, editor-in-chief of Trinity Mirror's Humber & Lincolnshire Region, quoted by the Mirror on Section 40: "This draconian law could have prevented public interest revelations such as a businessman falsely posing as a Falklands war hero to boost his business, lavish spending by health chiefs on trips to Florida, or the rightful exposure of care home staff and their abuse of an elderly patient. Legal action was threatened. Would we have had to think twice knowing the cost of bankrolling both sides? Papers such as ours invest in good journalism. We were praised by Leveson. Now, local media may face bankruptcy for serving public interest. Local democracy will suffer as a result."

Alastair Machray, editor of Trinity Mirror's Liverpool Echo, also quoted in the Mirror:  "Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act? It’s a free pass for the guilty. Call us old-fashioned up here, but we ain’t that keen on the conmen, the paedophiles, the bent politicians. And our job at the Liverpool Echo is to protect the public from them. But under Section 40 those villains just have to threaten legal action, safe in the knowledge that the thought of paying the costs – win or lose – is a massive barrier to us as we seek to publish the facts."

Marc Reeves, editor of the Birmingham Mail, writing in his own paper: "The sanction which would see us liable for all costs in a case, even if we won, would in my view incentivise complainants to bypass existing informal and formal routes to trigger litigation immediately. Just one small action resulting in a costs award of £100,000 could lead to irreparable harm to our finances. Any more may well be fatal."

Hugh Tomlinson Q.C., chair of Hacked Off, responding to the fears of local newspaper editors: "All this is based on the assumption that local newspapers will do the bidding of the national press and refuse to join a recognised regulator. Of course, if local newspapers do join such a regulator they face no adverse costs orders and receive costs protection against rich “libel bullies”. There is no “chilling effect”. Local and regional newspapers are still respected and trusted by the public. They risk losing that respect and trust if they allow themselves to be used by the corporate national press to defend the indefensible."

Former foreign secretary Douglas Hurd in newly released cabinet documents on the execution of Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft after he was hanged in Iraq in 1990: “In the atmosphere brought about by our present difficulties, Iraq would see any action against credit as a further political response to Bazoft and would hit back hard. That would be bad for our wider commercial interests where our competitors would happily step in to take up our share of the market.”

Sun ed Gallagher

Gary Lineker, interviewed in the Financial Times, about coming under attack from the Sun, which suggested he should be 'out on his ears' from the BBC: “It didn’t bother me, it didn’t worry me, I wasn’t, oh, my God, I’m going to lose my job. I got phone calls from people at the BBC almost immediately. They were very supportive. They can insult me all they like. I don’t mind. The editor of The Sun has got much bigger jug-ears than I have.”


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