Labour drafts law to guarantee UK free press
Britain’s Labour Party has published a draft law to guarantee press freedom, which requires the UK government, every minister and every public official in media affairs to uphold press freedom and its independence from the government.
The draft law is in response to the Leveson Report issued this month which recommended a law to guarantee press freedom as the underpinning for a legal mechanism for self-regulation by the press.
The report was the result of a year-long inquiry into allegations of criminal behaviour by newspapers in hacking the telephone accounts of a murder victim and celebrities.
But the Conservative Party and many British newspapers and journalists have resisted a legal basis for self-regulation, and have said such laws would undermine the freedom of the British press.
Britain has no law that guarantees press freedom, but relies on conventions developed over 300 years, as well as the European charter on human rights. Other countries that have laws to guarantee press freedom include the United States and Indonesia. The US First Amendment to the constitution forbids Congresss from enacting any law that would restrict the freedom of the press. The Indonesian law requires the government to take all measures to safeguard and uphold press freedom.
This is first part of Labour’s draft on press freedom:
1 Guarantee of media freedom and independence
(1) The Secretary of State, every Minister of the Crown and every other person exercising any public function relating to the media must uphold the freedom of the media and its independence from the executive.
(2) For the purpose of upholding that freedom and independence, each of those persons must have regard to–
(a) the importance of the freedom and integrity of the media;
(b) the importance of avoiding improper political influence over the media;
(c) the right of the media freely to impart information and the right of the public freely to receive it.
(3) In determining, for the purpose of any enactment or rule of law, whether an interference by a public authority with the exercise of a right mentioned in subsection (2)(c) is lawful, particular regard must be had to the importance of a free and independent media in a democratic society.
(4) The protection conferred by this section is in addition to the Convention rights of any person.