The following was submitted to the Consultation as Evidence to support the statement The Government should fully commence section 40 now.
Parliament enacted Section 40 on the basis that it would be commenced, not that commencement was discretionary. This consultation itself therefore contradicts the Government’s many promises that the incentives in the cross-party agreement would be delivered.
Victims of publication abuse need access to justice to take action against those publishers who have not accepted Leveson style approved regulation. S.40 delivers that.
Below the giant newspapers, the online publishing world is no less rife with privacy and other publication abuses and Section 40 provides for similar principles to facilitate cheap arbitration for diverse and less familiar types of relevant publisher as well as for currently less well known types of abuse.
Section 40 can therefore incentivise all types of relevant publishers, however small, to maintain channels of open democracy. Refusal to arbitrate cannot serve free-speech and where publication is claimed to be abusive, forcing legal action by a refusal to arbitrate, is essentially vexatious.
The prohibitive and dicey nature of defamation process, as well as multi-agency admission that criminal procedure is unable to keep up, can equal state interference anyway, especially through allowing ¡STOP! Defamation: http://stopdefamation.net.
A distinction needs to be drawn between Government interference in the press and Government protection of democratic communications. Section 40, has been formulated with checks and balances to promote and protect that difference.
The suspension, amendment or proposed repeal of section 40 constitutes clear Government interference in press regulation policy, which damages the public interest.