The fact is that someone who wanted to spread mistruths today would do it on the internet, and that would not be covered by either of the proposed systems of press regulation. We would probably now see a story of that type circulating on the internet, whereas in the 1980s the internet was something that a few universities used, and the worldwide web was something that United States military had developed for the purpose of its own communications in the event of world war three. It was not as we see it today. That shows why we need to be conscious of today’s position on the media and legislation. The industry, in many cases, particularly the local media, is struggling to survive and in decline and we do not want to end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater because of the horrendous practices of one or two newspapers, in particular The Sun in that instance.
I wanted to talk mainly about amendments 136 to 142. I listened with interest to Jess Phillips. She has a valid point when she says it is easy to put things that sound marvellous and fantastic on to goat skins, but what difference it actually makes on the ground is another matter. That is why I will agree with the Government’s motion to disagree with the Lords amendments.
Some of the provisions of Lords amendment 137, for example, are relatively vague. “Adequate notice” is not defined. There is also the provision potentially making the police and other authorities liable for any “unnecessary delay”; how can the police be held liable if it is the defence that engages in delay? The judiciary have the role of preventing court cases from being unnecessarily delayed.