Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, has spoken of his disappointment at the Government’s decision to abandon the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry. Mr Wiggin spoke at length during a Data Protection Bill debate, where he highlighted failings in the IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation) complaints procedure as an example of the need for the implementation of section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
Mr Wiggin said:
“I am obviously extremely disappointed that the Government last week chose to abandon Lord Leveson’s recommendations. The inquiry was always one inquiry in two parts, not two inquiries, and it should not stop halfway through.
Sir Brian Leveson was absolutely clear in his letter to the Secretary of State that he does not want the inquiry to stop halfway. However, there is no justification for spending millions on part 2 if we are simply to abandon the recommendations of part 1. We must carry out the recommendations of part 1 and then continue with the second half of the inquiry.”
Mr Wiggin disagreed with the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport’s assertion that the current system of press regulation was sufficient, and that implementing section 40 would damage the freedom of the press and hurt vulnerable local papers, saying:
“In response to the idea that the current system of regulation is sufficient, I point out that IPSO cannot be “largely compliant.” It is not possible to be largely pregnant—someone is either pregnant or not.
As per the Secretary of State’s statement, a regulator either follows all 29 criteria or it does not. IPSO does not, and therefore it is not the method of press regulation that Leveson recommended and that has already been passed into law.
The Secretary of State suggests that we do not need further regulation. Why would we regulate energy providers, communications providers and even exam providers, but simply decide to trust newspapers that have criminal convictions?”
Latterly, Mr Wiggin called for the members on both side of the House to support those victims of press abuse who are unable to afford proper arbitration. Mr Wiggin said:
“Section 40 is not only desirable but necessary. IPSO will never agree to apply to become an approved regulator unless it is forced to, and section 40 would ensure that it happened. These measures already received the full support of both Houses in proceedings on the Crime and Courts Act. We must now implement them. The challenge goes out to the Opposition parties: there is support on both sides of the House for section 40, but if there are not sufficient Members here to vote for it, the Government will have their way.
I hope we will make sure that this House does not bend the knee to the power of the press barons, but remembers its role to speak up for the vulnerable—the people who have no money, and who need a proper, fair and low-cost arbitration system.”