My Lords, I should declare a few interests. The first is that I was the victim of a kiss and tell story in a Sunday tabloid newspaper: front page and eight inside pages. I was also, separately, the victim of phone hacking. Thirdly, I joined the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, in his civil action under the Human Rights Act. Fourthly, I am a former senior police officer.
Briefly, on the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and the rather rosy picture he has of civil actions being taken by victims of phone hacking, and referencing what the noble Lord, Lord Black, said about the reality of what goes on outside, my reality was that yes, I had lawyers working on a conditional fee agreement—no win, no fee. I was told at the beginning of the process that I could get insurance against losing. Three months into the action, when tens of thousands of pounds been spent by both sets of lawyers, it was established that I could not get insurance against losing. If I had stopped the action at that point, I would have had to pay the costs not only of the newspapers’ lawyers but my lawyers, because a conditional fee agreement works only if you go through with the action and then lose. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for ordinary people to take on newspapers through the courts in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, presented it to the House earlier.
I say to the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, that, yes, the other place considered a previous amendment that we put to them. This is a different amendment. It addresses many of the concerns expressed in the other place, and the other place should have the opportunity to consider this amendment.
The noble Baroness, Lady Cavendish of Little Venice, and the noble Lord, Lord Black of Brentwood, both talked about the enormous burdens on major newspaper groups. We need to consider the enormous burdens placed on innocent victims of the media.