OSCE media freedom representative expresses concern that UK legal provision could have damaging impact on the country’s press

11 January 2017

VIENNA, 10 January 2017 — The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today expressed her concern about the commencement of a legal provision in the United Kingdom which would only shield press defendants from costs in legal proceedings if they are members of an officially recognized press regulator. Discussions by the UK government on implementing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 are in their last day of consultations.

The Representative noted that under the provision press defendants would be liable for all legal costs in libel and privacy cases, even if they win, unless they had already signed up to a recognized regulator. She observed that even reporting that is accurate and in the public interest could be punished under the provision.

Recalling her previous concerns about the Royal Charter on the self-regulation of the press issued in 2013, the Representative stated that: "the application of the provision could have a damaging impact on the press in the UK, particularly on investigative journalism. The negative effects could be felt most acutely by local and regional newspapers, which are already facing serious commercial challenges."

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Photo: OSCE

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