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West Norfolk MP backs opposition to press threat

Election Count at Lynnsport King's Lynn'Henry Bellingham
Election Count at Lynnsport King's Lynn'Henry Bellingham

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham has pledged support to resist legislation viewed by many as a threat to press freedom.

The Leveson Commission on the conduct of the press recommended that newspapers should be forced to sign up to a Government-sponsored regulator to make sure they abided by tighter codes of conduct.

But the House of Lords recently supported Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act that stipulated that if a newspaper failed to do such a thing then anytime they were taken to court – whether winner or loser in the case – it would be responsible for the costs.

Most of the industry – including the Lynn News – has signed up to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which is not a government-sponsored regulator.

Sir Henry said: “This is an erosion of the press freedom. If you don’t have an independent judiciary and an elected parliament that can be held to account by a free and fair press then you do not have a democracy.

“And you can see many examples around the world of so-called democracies where this has happened.”

Sir Henry said he was also worried about a clause in the Act that meant that historic reporting might have to be removed or changed in the light of later decisions delivered in court.

“That would be positively Orwellian,” he said.

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