Criminals, corrupt business leaders and cheating MPs could avoid being exposed under a fresh assault on Press freedom.
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.
The new press regulator Impress has admitted that some of its senior board members breached its own impartiality standards by appearing to be biased against a number of newspapers.
Impress was set up after the Leveson inquiry into newspaper practices to act as a the regulator of press standards. But most national newspapers rejected Impress as a form of state regulation and signed up to the Independent Press Standards
Organisation (Ipso), a voluntary independent body not backed by the Government.
But now an internal review of its own practices has found that three of its senior members breached its duty to act impartially and not give an impression of bias against any particular newspaper.
Most damningly of all the review found that Impress's own chief executive, Jonathan Heawood, had breached its guidelines and should no longer be allowed to serve on one of it's most important committees. The report found that Heawood had breached
Impress's own internal standards by sharing Twitter attacks on newspapers, eg a Tweet about the Daily Mail last October stated: John Lewis is bringing its name into disrepute by advertising in a Neo-Fascist rag. Other senior figures
shared tweets which criticised The Sun, Daily Mail and News UK and were disrespectful towards named journalists.
The Press Recognition Panel (PRP), which has the power to approve new regulatory bodies, has indicated it believes there has been a serious breach of one of its key principles, raising the prospect that Impress could even be stripped of its
status as a regulator. Susie Uppal, Chief Executive of the PRP, said: The PRP Board will be considering the Impress report and actions at its next Board meeting.
A muslim campaigner has said he is powerless to complain about a Sun column criticising Muslims because the Editors' Code gives no protection to minority groups on grounds of religion.
In a column on immigration, Sun comment writer Trevor Kavanagh said:
There is one unspoken fear, gagged by political correctness, which links Britain and the rest of Europe. The common denominator, almost unsayable until last week's furore over Pakistani sex gangs, is Islam. Thanks to former equalities
chief Trevor Phillips, and Labour MPs such as Rotherham's Sarah Champion, it is acceptable to say Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem.
He concluded his column by saying:
What will we do about The Muslim Problem then?
Miqdaad Versi has made numerous complaints to press regulator IPSO and secured 30 national press corrections over reporting of Islam and Muslims. He said:
In a week where we have seen the serious challenges of neo-Nazi plots against Muslims, we have a national newspaper asking its readers to consider what solution there should be for 'The Muslim Problem'. What would be the reaction if this was
about any other minority faith or racial group?
It is seriously disappointing that the press regulator IPSO is not willing to afford protection for groups against incitement to hatred or violence.
While the code protects individuals from discrimination it does not do the same for religious and ethnic groups. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Tell MAMA and Faith Matters have nonetheless submitted a joint complaint to press regulator
IPSO. In a statement they said:
The printing of the phrase 'The Muslim Problem' -- particularly with the capitalisation and italics for emphasis -- in a national newspaper sets a dangerous precedent, and harks back to the use of the phrase 'The Jewish Problem' in the last
More than 100 MPs have also signed a statement accusing the Sun of 'hatred and bigotry'.
Update: Best not talk about problems in the muslim community lest you get sacked
Shadow equalities minister Sarah Champion has resigned from her frontbench position following a row over an article she wrote in the Sun newspaper, noting that British Pakistani men are raping and exploiting white girls. The article ran
with the headline: British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls -- and it's time we face up to it.
In a statement the Rotherham MP said she apologised for any offence cause by the extremely poor choice of words which appeared in the newspaper five days' ago.
Champion hit the headlines last week when she warned people were failing to tell the truth about child abuse because they were afraid of being called racist, following the conviction of 18 men involved in a grooming gang. It was predominately
Pakistani men who were involved in such cases time and time again.
Our annual reports are, of course, about fulfilling the requirements spelt out in our regulations, so financial information and a full list of our regulated publications are naturally included. However, it is also an opportunity to reflect on
the successes and the practical ways in which we've provided protection for those who feel they've been wronged by the press while at the same time protecting the freedom of speech.
This year, the report looks in much more detail at our complaints statistics. We've provided figures on investigated complaints for each of our 80 plus publishers and also detailed the number of resolved complaints, breaches 203 along with what
sanctions were applied -- and the numbers of complaints that were not upheld.
For the first time, we've included the 25 publications that generated the highest number of complaints during the year along with the results of any resulting investigations.
The Daily Telegraph
The Mail on Sunday
In a year where IPSO received a record number of complaints and enquiries, the stats throw up a number (pun intended) of really interesting details. One that stands out for me is the increase in the amount of complaints that were resolved between
complainant and publication 203 either with or without IPSO mediating. In 2015, there were 269 resolutions and in 2016, that number had risen to 334. Such resolution is means quicker redress and to me shows that our publications take redress
seriously. I hear my colleagues speaking every day with complainants and these resolution statistics are a testament to their work in finding a mutually agreed solution to what might first look like an intractable problem.
Buried at the very end of the Conservative election manifesto is a line of text that could have an enormous impact on how Britons use the internet in the future.
Conservative advisers suggested to BuzzFeed News that a future Tory government would be keen to rein in the growing power of Google and Facebook.
The proposals -- dotted around the manifesto document -- are varied. There are many measures designed to make it easier to do business online but it's a different, more social conservative approach when it comes to social networks.
Legislation would be introduced to 'protect' the public from abuse and offensive material online, while everyone would have the right to wipe material that was posted when they were under 18. Internet companies would also be asked to help promote
counter-extremism narratives -- potentially echoing the government's Prevent programme. There would be new rules requiring companies to make it ever harder for people to access pornography and violent images, with all content creators forced to
justify their policies to the government.
The Manifesto states:
Our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives offline.
It should be as unacceptable to bully online as it is in the playground, as difficult to groom a young child on the internet as it is in a community, as hard for children to access violent and degrading pornography online as it is in the high
street, and as difficult to commit a crime digitally as it is physically.
New laws will be introduced to implement these rules, forcing internet companies such as Facebook to abide by the rulings of a regulator or face sanctions: We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability
to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law.
A levy on tech companies -- similar to that charged on gambling companies -- would also be used to support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms. The Conservatives even see this model going further, announcing their
desire to work with other countries develop a global set of internet regulation standards similar to those we have for so long benefited from in other areas like banking and trade.
May's manifesto also raises concerns about online news, warning it is willing to take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy, while pledging to ensure content creators are appropriately
rewarded for the content they make available online.
On a more positive note, the Conservative party manifesto contained one significantly welcome provision, which was that the party would not proceed with implementing the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry, and would repeal Section 40 of the
Crime and Courts Act 2013 -- both measures that RSF has campaigned for. RSF and other free expression groups viewed Section 40 as threatening to press freedom, particularly its cost-shifting provision that, if implemented, could have held
publishers that did not join the state-approved regulator liable for the costs of all claims made against them, regardless of merit.
In contrast, both the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos stated that the parties would disgracefully move forward with the unjust stage two of the Leveson Inquiry.
The British government has opened up a public consultation about implementing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Let the government know what you think about this disgraceful press censorship law