Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, last week met with actor Hugh Grant to discuss press regulation ahead of the remaining stages of the Data Protection Bill, due on 9th May.
Mr Wiggin had previously spoken in Parliament of his disappointment at the Government’s decision to abandon the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry, while Mr Grant is a member of Hacked Off, the campaign for an accountable Press.
Bill Wiggin MP also offered his reaction to an announcement from the Independent Press Standards Organisation, stating they are to implement a compulsory low-cost arbitration scheme.
Mr Wiggin welcomed the announcement, however he added a note of caution, saying:
“I have been campaigning for a compulsory low-cost arbitration scheme ever since the Leveson Inquiry.
The problem is that the so called ‘compulsory’ scheme is actually voluntary.
Newspapers are under no obligation to sign up, newspapers do not have to be members of IPSO and IPSO is not an approved regulator.
Any newspaper who is not signed up to the scheme, or who decides to leave IPSO, has no obligation to provide low-cost arbitration to victims of press abuse.
This announcement is therefore utterly meaningless without the legislation to enforce it.
IPSO, in saying that the newspapers must no longer be able to pick and choose, agree that the newspapers can no longer be trusted to provide the access to justice which Lord Leveson said was necessary – low-cost arbitration.
I welcome IPSO’s newly prompted commitment to low-cost arbitration, and want it to be compulsory for all members. I hope all their members sign up voluntarily and then remain in the scheme, but this does not change the need to legislate in order to protect the rights of the vulnerable to low-cost arbitration.
This is a step in the right direction, but until it is compulsory for all cases against all newspapers, but I am worried that it is still simply a sidestep by the media to avoid being forced to provide access to justice for the most vulnerable victims of press abuse.”