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

Yes. Well, the essential point was, as I know the Inquiry is very well aware, the very difficult issues of balance which have to be addressed.

What we sought to do in this proposal was, on the one hand, to balance the obvious and important public interest in maintaining public interest journalism against, on the other hand, the rights of the public to have their reputations and privacy protected, and rights of the public to fair and accurate information.

The way that we sought to achieve this in this proposal is by the establishment of a body which we call the "Media Standards Authority", which is to be a regulator of the media, not just the press, but anybody who publishes news in the United Kingdom. A body which is voluntary in nature, but which has a number of incentives for membership, and disincentives for those who are not members.

Perhaps the central feature is that we've sought to work in a proposal which would require anybody who wished to bring a legal claim against a member of someone who was regulated by this body, would first have to go through a process of adjudication. And the thought that we had was that very large sums of money are spent by the media on defending libel and privacy claims. A lot of money could be saved if a substantial proportion of those could be the subject of early resolution through an adjudication process.

As I'm sure the Inquiry is aware, you can't compel people to give up their rights of access to court. That would be contrary to the common law and contrary to Article 6. But what you can do is compel them to go through an interim process first. The view that we took was that if an independent person says to either a claimant or to a media organisation, "Your case is hopeless for these reasons", that a very high percentage of people would accept that determination and move on.

We thought that's a very powerful incentive. But there are a number of other incentives and disincentives which I'm sure you will come to, but that's really at the centre of the proposal.

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