Betaville backs British newspapers' call for repeal of Section 40 Crime and Courts Act

Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 9:48 am

Last year little old Betaville received its first threatening legal letter from a top City law firm, so I know what it's like to face a bully trying to suppress a good tale.

In fact, as a staff business journalist at The Daily Telegraph during the mid-noughties I received numerous legal warning letters and also one threat to injuct the whole newspaper (a potential disaster for a national publication).

Because little old Betaville's legal department is pretty much non-existent (for the moment), I had to shelve last year's controversial piece about the FTSE-listed company.

However, during my time at The Daily Telegraph the newspaper backed most of the stories by my former colleagues and myself despite threatening legal letters, some of which had no merit and were effectively empty threats i.e. they definately would have lost had the case ended up in court.

Indeed, the paper, then edited by Will Lewis, even ran an M&A scoop (yes, an M&A story) despite the threat of an injuction from a FTSE 100-listed company. Two months later, that story was proved to be 100pc correct and the company involved shown to be a clear cut bully trying to suppress the truth, some of which had already leaked into the market.

I suspect, though, if the British government doesn't repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act - which could require publishers to pay the costs of the people who sue them even if the newspapers win the row - publications won't be able to back their hacks in any way near the same way as they did back when I was a staffer, especially as the econonics of newspaper publishing are much worse now.

Anyway, there have been a plethora of editorials and leader columns by much better writers than me, so I have provided links to some of my favourite pieces on the topic below:

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/01/press-regulation-will-silence-pesky-gadflies-like/

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/don-t-clap-our-crusading-press-in-leg-irons-rhbk3l2gv

http://aboutus.ft.com/2017/01/10/ft-response-to-consultation-on-section-40-of-the-crime-courts-act-2013-and-part-two-of-the-leveson-inquiry/#axzz4VO2wLUSc..

[Disclaimer - the information on Betaville does not consitute any form of investment recommendation and is not intended to be relied upon by readers in making, or refraining from, any investment decisions].

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