Freedom of the press matters


          I believe in  freedom of the press. If the press  needs regulation on top of the criminal law which already applies to newspapers and journalists it should be self regulation, not regulation under any kind of political control.  In order to have a system of self regulation, the  press needs to buy into it and operate it. Politicians should not force a system onto the press that they are unwilling to operate.

          If there are bad practices which the country wishes to prevent, Parliament can legislate to make them illegal. The worst abuses by some in the press in recent  years were against the law. Phone hacking is against the law. There is no need to set up expensive and controversial regulation to tackle people wh0 break the law. They should be charged in a court of law.

           Other occupations which have fallen under politician inspired “independent regulation” are often the worse for it. After years of extensive increase in financial regulation, switching it from self regulation to Statute based regulation, we had the worst banking crash and set of scandals in living memory. That was no great advert for Statute backed regulation.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted October 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Out of step with your leader yet again I see. There can’t be much that your party’s leadership advocates with which you agree. Why don’t you resign from your failing party and do something useful? Why not join UKIP? They have policies which chime well with yours.

    • Posted October 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      It’s called democracy. You explain your reasoning and try and persuade people to come to your point of view. Then you come to a majority decision. You don’t throw your toys out of the pram because people don’t agree with you.

      • Posted October 12, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        Handbags, Problem! Mr. Redwood is a conservative, as am I, he is also my MP, the current masters of the Conservative Party are not.

      • Posted October 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Oh I see, Cameron and Osborne decide, MPs in their party object and then, having got it off their chests, they all do what Cameron says. Sounds more like an oligarchy than a democracy to me.

    • Posted October 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Has UKIP stated an official position on whether we should have a free press or one controlled by politicians as agreed by the three main parties?

      • Posted October 12, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        This from the UKIP website under the heading 2We must not create anything that restricts freedom”:
        “In the light of the deal on a Royal Charter for the restriction of the press, Nigel Farage MEP, the UKIP leader has reiterated UKIP’s absolute opposition to any political interference with the operations of a free press………He went on, “This is a Charter for the Suppression of the Press, not for its regulation. UKIP will fight these proposals as hard as we can, particularly through the leadership of Lord Stevens of Ludgate in the House of Lords.”
        Sounds good to me how about you and our host?

        • Posted October 13, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

          That seems pretty clear to me.

          The leaders of all three of the main parties are against having a free press, the leader of UKIP is in favour of a free press.

          It’s worth remembering that the BBC has a Royal Charter, but that doesn’t stop it acting as a political propagandist.

        • Posted October 13, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          I don’t think Mr Redwood disagrees with UKIP’s policies on any issue, but he seems to disagree with Tory policies on lots of issues, like gay marriage, energy policy, taxation, banking regulation and so on and so on.

          However he believes that he will be able to influence policy more from within the Tory Party.

          I disagree with him because I think UK policies are increasingly dictated from Brussels (PO sale, HS2 etc), and therefore the EU is the only game in town – everything else is just fluff. That’s why I support a party that puts our independence above all else; without that independence there is no point discussing the other issues because whatever the UK Parliament decide can be overridden by the EU nomenklatura whose agenda may not include our best interests.

          And FWIW, I don’t believe David Cameron’s referendum promise; he’s just trying to shoot the ukip fox, like he tried with the mobile “go home” advertising placards. I just hope that the British voters are not as dumb as he obviously thinks they are.

  2. Posted October 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Yes, people, including journalists, who break the law should be prosecuted. But if the people who break the law are friendly with the police and with politicians, and have considerable power to influence public opinion about them, it can happen that prosecutions will not occur. There is some evidence that this happened.

    Politicians, the police, and the press should all be preventing the untrammelled power of any one of them. No one group should be able to operate without suffering effective criticism when it does wrong. The Levenson enquiry seemed to me to demonstrate that the press were not being effectively constrained and were mistreating people, who had no effective redress.

    • Posted October 12, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      So, we introduce new laws because the existing law is not being enforced?

      • Posted October 13, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Yes, because the old laws were ineffective.

        I agree with your implied point that it would have been better if the existing laws had been adhered to.

        • Posted October 13, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          “But if the people who break the law are friendly with the police and with politicians, and have considerable power to influence public opinion about them, it can happen that prosecutions will not occur” even with your new supposedly more effective laws.

        • Posted October 13, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

          Maybe I should add that I would I agree with you if I believed that the present laws were actually unenforceable. We should not have laws which are unenforceable as that makes a mockery of the law.

          But clearly that is not the situation; the present laws are enforceable but some of those who had a duty to enforce them failed to do so, and allegedly in some cases even connived at them being broken.

  3. Posted October 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Agree totally. Can anybody point me to even a glimmer of an explanation why the Laws of the land are not, or cannot be made, adequate to prevent deemed wrongdoing? I simply cannot grasp it. In general I think that the non horrors of phone tapping, which in any event are unlikely to be repeated, though admittedly nothing to be proud of in one or two cases, have been well over-egged especially by those poor celebratory types who are so keen to be in the public eye when it suits them.

    • Posted October 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      The state expands inevitably until it is stopped. Politicians (except for our host here) want to feel loved and helpful, so they extend their responsibilities because they want to “make an impact.”
      The fact that they know absolutely nothing about what they want to regulate is neither here nor there.
      And the very last place that they want to discuss anything of importance seems to be parliament which has ancient and sensible rules in place to control and focus discussion.

    • Posted October 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Well given that the currently laws weren’t enforced, possibly due to the media’s close relations with the police, it’s clear that we need a more robust system.

      • Posted October 13, 2013 at 6:35 am | Permalink

        The solution is the removal of policemen who accept money for confidential information. The Charter does not solve that problem.

  4. Posted October 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    So will be voting against press regulation by Statute, then?
    And you will be listing, in a major speech in the Commons, all those regulatory authorities that are a complete waste of time and money, and whose staff members are a complete waste of space?

  5. Posted October 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    When considering what lies before us, I am reminded of a line from one of my favourite films, ‘The Dam Busters’. To make the bouncing bomb work, the Lancaster crews were asked if they could fly at 60 ft at night, and after taking the top off a tree, one was heard to remark, ‘This is bloody dangerous!’ And the same goes for the proposed legislation on the regulation of the press.

    I don’t like gutter journalism, which is why I don’t buy tabloid newspapers, but that isn’t to say some of the broadsheets are any better – even those with a hoity-toity clientele – for they masquerade as being steadfast and truthful, but, as in the case of The Guardian, give their own surreptitious slant to suit themselves. Yet I defend their right to tell it as they see it.

    Even taking account of some deplorable events in recent times, which are covered by criminal law already, press regulation really is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge, and should be resisted.

    I take a good, long, look at those who propose it and I’m very suspicious of their motives.

    Tad Davison


    • Posted October 12, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Would you also want all media regulations to be reduced to the same level as press regulations? If not why not.

      • Posted October 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

        If I knew what you were talking about, I might answer you, but as it’s you, with your track record, I guess you don’t know either.

        • Posted October 13, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          Just answer the question!

          (Whatever it may be.)


  6. Posted October 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Indeed we have the criminal law, the press complaints system and the libel laws that is surely sufficient.

    We have seen how the libel laws were already exploited by people like – Maxwell, Lord Archer and Aitken’s “sword of truth” and countless others.

    The real problem is the absurd cost of minor libel actions, the evidence laws and the balance of risk in these actions. This if anything is what needs to be addressed.

    Indeed the legal profession in general and the expensive, usually damaging legal system does huge harm all over the place. Particularly in divorce cases I note, where often the lawyers “advising” are often causing real additional harm.

  7. Posted October 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    More reasons to increase the pressure on removing Cameron from power and or forming new conservative party, the old one that you cling desperately to has gone.
    The house in on fire, the fire fighting equipment is outside, and you’re going to get burned.

    • Posted October 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Beware of the Russians, they have their own axes to grind.

      “EU court holds Estonian website responsible for offensive user comments”

      It’s not an EU court; it’s not the EU’s Court of Justice in Luxembourg, it’s the Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and you might think that Russians would understand that distinction as Russia is a member state of the Council of Europe but not of the EU.

      “Leedo sued Delfi over the comments and won symbolic compensation of 320 euros from a lower court in April 2006.”

      It used to be well understood in this country that if you sued for defamation and the jury awarded you damages of one farthing then they were saying that you were right in law but (questioned the seriousness of the offence? ed)
      “In a similar case against Delfi earlier this year, two site users received suspended sentences from an Estonian court after insulting a senior judge, while the news website escaped responsibility.”

      Now that may be more serious, of course people should be allowed to say what they think about judges.

  8. Posted October 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Provided the press can maintain a unified front I don’t think the main party politicians can succeed in this attempt to seize control. It will be a question of who cracks first: either one of the parties will start to distance itself from the proposal, or some of the newspapers will cave in and submit to government control. Of course the state broadcaster will be on the side of the state damaging their competitors in the press.

  9. Posted October 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree. Politicians have no business nor right to regulate the press. It is the thin end of the wedge. A wedge that will be hammered home, blow by blow, until there is total state censorship of the media, both old and new. It would pave the way for the imposition of the Big Lie and the suppression of dissent – something too many of todays MPs want as their views on CAGW sceptics reveal. Mr Miliband would love it.

    • Posted October 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Politicians already regulate other forms of media, including broadcasters. Would you want all regulations regarding what broadcasters can do to be removed as well?

      Also climate change denier still lack any evidence to support any of their claims.

      • Posted October 13, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        What the “deniers” deny is the responsibility of man made CO2 for climate change. There is plenty of evidence for that as the history of this earth demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt!

        The case for regulation of broadcasting depends, to a considerable degree, on technical reasons, notably the restricted bandwidth that is available. At the moment there are no technical restrictions on the availability of paper.

      • Posted October 13, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        It is for the proponents of man made global warming to prove their hypothesis is correct not for those who question it to prove a negative.
        Just shouting we are right is not enough
        Why only a 0.7 rise in the 20th century compared to your predictions?
        Why no runaway rises in temperature after 2000 as predicted?
        Why no submerged islands as predicted?
        Still if you believe, then just keep ignoring any facts which don’t fit in with your religious beliefs.

  10. Posted October 12, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Reading the Charter here:

    I see:

    “NOW KNOW YE that We by Our Prerogative Royal and of Our especial grace, certain knowledge and mere motion do by this Our Charter for Us, Our Heirs and Successors will, ordain and declare as follows …. ”

    I seriously wonder whether in this day and age politicians should be allowed to shelter themselves behind Royal Prerogative in this way over such a serious matter.

  11. Posted October 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, from Ireland:

    “THE notion that Europe’s biggest democracy is unable to form a government due to differences over Ireland’s corporation tax is both extraordinary and extraordinarily worrying.

    This country cannot afford headlines such as “Ireland is blockage to grand coalition”, which appeared in yesterday’s highly influential ‘Suddeutsche Zeitung’ newspaper.”

    They’ll never stop until there is a single rate of corporation tax across the whole EU.

  12. Posted October 12, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Given that the previous system was self regulation and it failed badly the newspapers should be treated the same as any other media and be regulated by law.

    • Posted October 13, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      They already are Uni

      Libel Slander Defamation
      And many other criminal laws.
      You just want them under your political control

  13. Posted October 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Like other contributors I want the Press to be free.

    I listened to a little of Leveson’s evidence to a HoC Select Committee and agreed that there should be a cheap method whereby those who have been ill-treated by the Press may gain redress. In other words, the law is fine…but it only seems available to the rich. So we need a cheap method that does not encourage frivolous complaint.

  14. Posted October 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I regard the Daily Mail as the only real newspaper – that is the only one that consistently actually looks for stories rather than waiting for somebody (usually a government sock puppet) to give them a press release to rewrite.

    Even if the Miliband story was played slightly OTT the fact is that the Mail is the only paper that would report it. It is important that people should know what the formative influences on the political views of a possible PM are and everybody else censored it.

    No wonder the BBC, which is almost unarguably the most powerful totalitarian state propagandist organisation in either the developed or English speaking worlds, has set its agenda at destroying both the Mail and any attempt at a free press.

    • Posted October 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      The Daily Mail was not involved in phone hacking. This must be a huge disappointment to Hacked Off.

    • Posted October 13, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Very well put Neil, especially your criticism of the BBC.

    • Posted October 14, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Neil! Neil! Orange Peel! The Daily Mail is just feminist nonsense and housewife claptrap. The Sunday Sport is a far superior read. They promise too educate, inform, entertain and they do it in spades.

      • Posted October 14, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        Just remember a free press, despite its occasional excesses, gave us the MP’s expenses scandal and many other stories that a shackled press would never be able to print in the future Baz.

        • Posted October 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          Thanks edward I’ll bear it in mind. You and the others can also remember that many advisers spokesman, spin doctors, researchers formally and chairmen had jobs at the BBC. before they were recruited by the Tory party. Labour thought that the BBC was against them and so do the Tories this is good, because imagine if they thought they were on their side.?

  15. Posted October 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Britain seems to be becoming Sovietised.

    • Posted October 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Your observations are right Anonymous. The Soviet Union and more importantly its ideals are alive and well in Great Britain. Count on it. Ram it.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page