NUJ statement on Data Protection Bill amendments
9 May 2018
The NUJ has issued the following statement in advance of the report stage debate in parliament on the data protection bill.
The NUJ fully supports the cross-party amendment tabled by Ed Miliband, Ken Clarke, Brendan O’Hara, Christine Jardine, Liz Saville Roberts and Caroline Lucas (NC18). It includes a reference to consulting the relevant trade unions as part of a programme of work to launch the Leveson Inquiry part two.
Earlier this year the NUJ called for a cross party campaign against the government’s decision to shelve the second stage of the Leveson inquiry. Trust in journalism and in the integrity of the political process can only be restored if politicians have the courage to stand up to vested interests who have learned nothing from the events which brought about the first Leveson report.
Awarding costs and arbitration services:
The Tom Watson and Liam Byrne amendment (NC21) is an improvement on the existing draft legislation but lacks clarity on exemptions to the costs. The amendment states that publishers will be exempt if they have an "average annual turnover not exceeding £100 million over the last five complete financial years".
However the NUJ and publishers remain concerned about the potential impact on local newspapers and this amendment is lacking in important clarity.
More broadly, the NUJ believes that rather than making changes through other pieces of legislation, a fresh approach on regulation is needed, as the resolution passed at the NUJ delegate meeting (DM) last month makes clear:
This DM condemns the decision of the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport to cancel the suspended part two of the Leveson inquiry, despite a lengthy consultation process and against the advice of Lord Leveson, the inquiry’s chair.
This DM also notes his decision not to bring into effect section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, an act agreed by both houses of parliament, that determines payment of court costs if a defendant of news-related material is or is not a member of a recognised regulator.
This DM believes the government’s attempts to wish into being a satisfactory system of press regulation through the actions of others has utterly failed. No regulator has emerged that is satisfactorily independent, and has been accepted by the bulk of UK publishers. Several major newspaper groups remain outside any kind of external regulation.
This DM reaffirms its believe that a properly independent, effective regulator that puts journalistic ethics at the core of its work, and oversees the entire sector, is required for the British press to regain the trust of the reading public.
DM recalls that part two of the Leveson inquiry was to:
- Inquire into the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International, other newspaper organisations and, as appropriate, other organisations within the media
- Investigate the way in which any relevant police force investigated allegations or evidence of unlawful conduct by persons within or connected with News International
- Examine the extent of corporate governance and management failures at News International and other newspaper organisations
- Consider the role of politicians and public servants in any failure to investigate wrongdoing at News International
- Recommend action over relationships between newspaper organisations and the police, prosecuting authorities, and relevant regulatory bodies.
The NUJ believes the inquiry would have exposed the damaging and possibly criminal part that employers and publishers played in the events that led to the setting up of the Leveson Inquiry and condemns Matt Hancock, the secretary of state, for betraying the public by falling for the cleverly orchestrated line from the News Media Association that there had been a "seismic change" in the media landscape since the original Leveson inquiry and that he should “look to the future” when in fact there has been remarkably little change.
This DM instructs the NEC to:
- Continue campaigning for Leveson two to go ahead by pressuring the government through the NUJ parliamentary group and by any other suitable means
- Campaign for the government to start anew the process of considering an effective system of press regulation, to include inexpensive, binding arbitration for those who feel that they have been misrepresented.