The following letter was published in The Times on 25 October 2016.
The Crime and Courts Act 2013, as it stands, is a danger to a free press. Under the act, a publisher can be ordered to pay both sides’ costs in a dispute if the publisher is not a member of an approved regulator.
Index on Censorship has fought for free speech since 1972, and as publishers ourselves, we will not join a regulator that has to be approved by a body created by the state. This means we – and many other small publishers – could face crippling costs in any dispute, threatening investigative journalism or those who challenge the powerful or the wealthy.
Index has called for cheaper mediation in press disputes as we, like Impress funder Max Moseley and Impress chair, Walter Merricks, believe this is better for free speech. Where we disagree is in the need for a regulator to be recognised by a panel appointed via the state – or for law that makes it, in effect, compulsory to join an approved regulator or face punitive costs.
CEO, Index on Censorship