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The Tories hand the press their Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card

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Brian CathcartLondon
Worse still: May's promise to ditch Leveson 2 and cheap arbitration would give the corporate national papers carte blanche to breach our rights in future

The Conservative election manifesto reveals with absolute clarity the depth of Theresa May’s subservience to the billionaire-owned, Brexit-backing corporate national press. 

Down at page 80 is a single paragraph entitled, sweetly, ‘A free media’, which promises that if elected May will erase all trace of the Leveson Inquiry from our public life. There will be no Leveson Part 2 to establish the true scale of press lawbreaking, and no Section 40 to ensure that it is not just millionaires who are able to uphold their legal rights against newspapers.

This paragraph might have been, and indeed conceivably was, written by our corrupt national press itself – their very own Get Out Of Jail Free card. And these are both U-turns by May, reversing positions she has publicly declared in the past.

If it happens it will be just as if the world never found out that Rupert Murdoch's employees hacked Milly Dowler's phone.  

There will be no effective, independent regulation for the press in this country despite its amply-proven record of amoral conduct and abuse of innocent people.

Nor will there be access to affordable justice for the victims when papers breach their legal human rights (which they have been proven to do a great deal). There is no legal aid, the no-win-no-fee system has been neutered and May is now promising to remove any hope of access to the meaningful low-cost arbitration recommended by Leveson. 

So unless you can afford the six- and seven-figure bills that go with High Court action (which May’s premium supporters no doubt can) you might as well whistle for justice when you are libelled or when a newspaper intrudes illegally upon your privacy.  

So let’s be clear: what May proposes is a carte blanche for the Mail, the Express, the Sun and others to break the law, and to behave as unethically as they wish. There will be nothing to stop them besides the feeble sham that is IPSO.

Better than that, so far as the Dacres and Murdochs of this world are concerned, by  promising to abandon the promised part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry May waves a magic wand over proven past criminality for which nobody has taken responsibility and throws away an opportunity to find out what they are up to now.  

Leveson concluded – and four prime ministers admitted – that politicians and the press had got too close in recent decades and that the public had suffered gravely as a result. What has been the response of the press and of Theresa May? To get closer still.

This is a pact between newspaper bosses and politicians that sabotages British public life and exposes thousands of ordinary people to cruelty at the hands of unscrupulous newspapers. It is a piece of politics worthy of the very shabbiest banana republic. 

#election, #conservative, #may, #manifesto, #press, #levelson, #libel, #privacy

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