Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Committee recommends reform of libel laws and more powers for a toothless PCC

Whilst the headlines from the Commons committee will be about News International,let's nor forget that the main body of this report concerns privacy.

In particular the issue of the Press Complaint's council (PCC) which it describes as "toothless".

It recommends that it should be able to levy fines on publications or even suspend them for a day.

The Libel law should also be looked at with its key recommendation that ­lawyers should no longer be able to claim the 100% "success fees" for ­winning cases against the media, but should be limited to an extra 10%.In addition it recommends limiting the scope of the so called "libel tourists".

The committee added that if a defendant in a libel case is in the right, it "should not be forced into a settlement which entails him sacrificing justice on the grounds of cost."

Its chairman John Whittingdale said:

"A healthy democracy requires a free press. It is essential that newspapers should be able to report and comment on events, public figures and institutions, to be critical of them and to be a platform for dissenting views.
"At the same time, the press must be seen to uphold certain standards, to be mindful of the rights of those who are written about and, as far as possible, be accurate in what they report.

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