Criminals, corrupt business leaders and cheating MPs could avoid being exposed under a fresh assault on Press
Amendments to the Data Protection Bill going through Parliament would make it easier for the rich and powerful to escape being held to account.
Tabled by Tory peer John Attlee and crossbencher Shiela Hollins, the changes would make it harder to carry out investigative journalism and protect the identity of sources who reveal wrongdoing.
They would affect all publications, from national newspapers and broadcasters including the BBC, to small community newspapers, charities and think-tanks.
Critics also fear that a second raft of amendments is being used as a backdoor route to force publishers to join the injust regulator Impress, which depends on money from the former Formula One boss Max Mosley.
The latest moves threaten 300 years of Press freedom by undermining the principle that journalists have the right to print whatever information they believe is in the public interest, and only answer for it to the courts afterward.
Last night Lord Grade, a former chairman of the BBC and ITV, said: Any legislative move that restricts a journalist's legitimate inquiries should be opposed. The current laws and codes of conduct are sufficient to protect people from unwarranted
intrusion and exposure.
Under the existing Bill, as proposed by the Government, the exemption for journalists depends on whether their reporting is in the public interest, as defined by the Ofcom code, the BBC editorial guidelines or the Independent Press Standards
Organisation's Editors' Code of Practice. But some peers want to remove Ipso from the legislation and replace it with the injust press censor Impress, which covers only a handful of hyper-local publications and blogs.
Robert Skidelsky, one of the peers seeking to have Impress's code of practice recognised in the Bill, is a close friend of Max Mosley.