As we emerge from our holiday period it is important to realise what is going on in the background that will affect all our lives and will result in the loss of our civil liberties.
I am talking about the introduction of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 Section 40.
This follows on from the Levenson Inquiry and its recommendations.
This section, if adopted, will provide for the imposition of huge costs on the newspapers and will result in the restriction of news brought about by investigative journalists.
We all are aware of the failings of the press in recent times but we should also bear in mind the exposures of corruption and abuse it has brought to our attention.
Everything from the expenses scandal being operated by our MPs to the sexual abuse of children by influential and powerful people who, under this legislation, would be able to keep it secret and continue with the abuse.
We do not have to look too far to find an example of the good work being done by our local press.
It just recently exposed the misuse of the Terrorism Act against two serving police officers, along with journalists from a regional newspaper.
This work resulted in a public apology by the Chief Constable and the PCC, and no doubt a massive
compensation claim to be paid.
It would have been harder for the aggrieved parties to prove their case without the freedoms enjoyed by the press to investigate.
So, as we can see, the combination of the Terrorism Act, implementation of the so called “snoopers charter” – coupled with this restriction of the press – will leaves us all at the mercy of all forms of abuse.
We need to defend not a perfect press, but a necessary one.
Chris Gallacher, TD VR,