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NUJ calls for ‘partial’ implementation of Section 40

Michelle Stanistreet 1The National Union of Journalists has called for the government to “partially” implement the controversial Section 40 legislation.

However, the organisation wants minister to stop short of implementing the proposed law in a way which could lead to publishers facing “potentially ruinous” legal costs.

Responding to a consultation which closes today, the NUJ says the government should partially commence Section 40, but keep under review those elements that apply to publishers outside a recognised watchdog.

The union says elements of the legislation could beneft watchdogs which have “established proper systems of arbitration”.

If implemented in full, the legislation could see publishers which don’t sign up to recognised bodies forced to pay both sides’ costs in a libel or privacy action even if they win.

At present, the Max Mosley-funded body Impress is the only such organisation under the government’s Royal Charter.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, pictured above left, said: “A perfect storm poses a mortal threat to British journalism – a crisis of trust, a crisis of revenue and a crisis of relevance.

“The first would be much aided by the establishment of a genuinely independent system of arbitration that would allow those who believe that the press has overstepped the mark to seek redress easily and inexpensively. Journalists, publishers and the public would benefit from the establishment of such a process.

“The NUJ believes that by partially implementing Section 40, it would potentially bring benefits to those regulators that have established proper systems of arbitration. Those who have not would continue to deal with the courts as they do today.

“The government should continue to encourage those regulators that do not have effective arbitration in place to establish such systems. While providing significant benefits for those with systems of arbitration, ministers should now rule out implementing Section 40 in a way that could lead to publishers facing potentially ruinous legal costs.”

The union has also pushed for the implementation of what it calls a “conscience clause”, affording journalists contractual protection to safeguard them from being forced to act unethically by their employers.

Its submission to the consultation reads: said: “This concept was accepted by Lord Leveson, yet to date has still not been adopted by newspapers and IPSO, the industry-led regulator.”

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  • January 11, 2017 at 11:48 am

    If Section 40 is implemented, concern about “…a crisis of revenue and a crisis of relevance” will be irrelevant.

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