The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

It's interesting, in about 1994 or 1995 Alan Rusbridger wrote a paper which was doing something similar to what George Brock is now suggesting, which is to have a public interest defence and at the same time to tighten up the privacy law and he came up with that and very quickly it all disappeared.

I think that one of the problems that we have to accept is that we have basically two kinds of press here. There is the press, which I would include the Times and the Guardian and the Independent, who would be very happy to sit down and organise some self-regulation which we would undoubtedly use, as indeed they pretty much do now.

So what one needs to think about is what about the rest, what about everybody else? Because that's really what the problem is.

I've already talked about the right of reply. I think that that is something that would be very useful. It's used in other countries in Europe. It is not considered to be onerous and it does reach into newsrooms, it does change culture.

Media reform is also interested in some form of new body which would certainly incentivise people to belong in much the same way as you discussed, by encouraging people to use both an ombudsman system and a tribunal system which would be within the new body and which would provide a cap, so that if you belonged to the body and complaints were taken through that body, you would be to some extent protected from the much harsher environment of the courts and the much higher fines in the courts, and that would in itself be an incentive for people to join.

Because it's absolutely right that it won't work unless everybody's in there and if everybody is going to be in there they have to have a reason to be in there, and the main reason must be that they're going to get something out of it, and that would be to some extent some protection from legal action in the trickier cases where there is a public interest defence, certainly. I think there would be a way of making that work.

But the question of funding, I don't think I have an answer there. There has been quite a lot of discussion about the possibility of using something in parallel with the tribunal system, which -- certainly the employment tribunal system works to allow people to access justice through the employment tribunal system without spending a lot of money, and maybe some similar sort of arrangement.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech