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Section 40 pressure put on government by Lords amendment

09 February 2017


An amendment to impose measures that would force news websites to pay both sides' costs in legal cases was added to a bill in the House of Lords. 

The amendment, which mirrors Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, was added to the Digital Economy Bill during its Committee Stage in the House of Lords last night in a bid to put added pressure on the government to enact the same measures currently under consideration in relation to newspapers. 

The proposal, which was later withdrawn, was introduced by independent crossbencher Baroness Hollins who cited the need for more stringent regulation of the press.

She said: "My hope is for a free and responsible press, but what is most disappointing for the public is over the last four years of inertia and of the press failure to establish a proper regulator, countless more individuals have been affected by press abuse.”

The move was greeted cautiously by Lord Kene of Elie who highlighted opposition to Section 40 on the basis of the effect that it would have on investigative journalist.

He added: “It is right the government takes stock, looks at the changes which have already taken place and seeks the views of all interested parties on the most effective way to ensure the inexcusable practices … can never happen again.

“Bringing in a law that effectively mirrors Section 40 but for relevant digital publications only would create an incoherent regime, applying different rules depending on the mechanism by which an article has been published.”

The commencement of Section 40 against newspaper publishers has been strongly opposed by the Society of Editors. 

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