Posted by Sam Fenny - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 13 July 2023

Why things can only get worse with Labour

Amid the endless Tory crisis, we can still get a glimpse of how, when it comes to our precious liberties, a Labour government would almost certainly be even worse than the Conservatives. One such instance is the latest row over an obscure but important piece of legislation that casts a shadow over UK press freedom: Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

The Tories belatedly want to abolish Section 40, but Labour has vowed to oppose its abolition. This alone should be enough to make anybody who cares about freedom of speech and of the press think twice about voting for Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

Some background. Section 40 was passed in the wake of the 2012 Leveson Inquiry. That was ostensibly an inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal at the closed Sunday tabloid, the News of the World, which became an inquisitorial probe into the entire ‘culture, practices and ethics’ of the British media. It was effectively a show trial in which the tabloid press was found guilty before proceedings began.

Lord Justice Leveson’s final report called for a firm regime of press regulation backed by law – the first such state-backed system since Crown licensing of the printing press was abolished in 1695. An official regulator called Impress was duly established under the aegis of the monarch’s Privy Council. However, understandably, no national news publisher agreed to bend the knee to state-backed supervision. Impress is still boycotted, not only by the likes of the Daily Mail, the Sun, The Times and the Telegraph, but also by the Guardian, the Financial Times and the rest.

Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 was intended to force the reluctant news media to submit to state-backed regulation. Its rules mean that if any news publisher not signed up to the official regulator is sued, it will have to pay the substantial court costs of both sides – even if it wins! Dissident news organisations could also be subject to huge fines.

Ludicrously, this form of legal blackmail was presented by the establishment as a ‘carrot’ to induce newspapers to sign up to Impress. As I wrote at the time, if Section 40 was a carrot, it was one shaped like a baseball bat with a nine-inch nail sticking out of the end.

Section 40 was duly passed. But in the face of public pressure (not least a ‘consultation’ exercise that came out overwhelmingly against the new rules), successive Tory governments refused to implement it. The law has instead sat dormant on the statute book, waiting for a Labour government to enforce its repressive regulations, as the party promised to do at the last General Election.

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