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Daily reveals years of legal threats over bid to stop patch being ‘dug up’

A regional daily has revealed it has faced years of legal threats from a company it is trying to stop from digging up “large swathes” of its patch.

Portsmouth daily The News says lawyers representing Aquind have threatened action over matters “demonstrably within the public interest” over the past five years when it has covered plans bid to build a cross-Channel power cable.

The News has exposed the repeated threats as it launched a fresh front page rallying cry against the plans, with judges at the Royal Courts of Justice examining a judicial review by Aquind.

The review comes after the then-Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng turn down the scheme last year.

Portsmouth No

In an editorial published yesterday, The News said: “The News has covered the Aquind saga for five years now, from the first appearance of the plans – at which point, without any detail given, seemed innocuous – to regular protests across the city.

“We have been sent legal letters on a regular basis by Aquind’s lawyers, threatening action over matters demonstrably within the public interest.

“We will be covering the judicial review today and tomorrow as we continue to shine a light on these proposals.

“And we will be unapologetic about joining the chorus of voices from Portsmouth urging the judges to just say no.”

HTFP has approached The News for further details about the nature of the threats it has received.

The fresh fight comes after the newspaper won Campaign of the Year at this month’s inaugrual Media Freedom Awards for its bid to stop Aquind.

Speaking to The News, Viola Langley, from the Let’s Stop Aquind campaign group, said: ‘The issue has once again become a hot topic in the city.

“Given the strategic significance of the interconnector project and the energy security crisis, questions are part of a legitimate public debate.

“However, outlets such as Reuters and The News have all come under legal challenge regarding commentary around Aquind, demonstrating the chilling effects of legal threats on free speech in our democracy.”

HTFP has also approached Aquind for a comment.