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CPJ urges urgent repeal of Section 40

Section 40 repeal cannot come soon enough says CPJ and international press freedom organisations.

CPJ urges urgent repeal of Section 40

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and nine other organizations representing news media titles, journalists, and campaign groups, urged U.K. authorities on Tuesday to urgently repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which could force publishers to pay the costs of people who sue them — even if the outlet wins.

Section 40, which has never been brought into force, was drawn up following the Leveson Inquiry into British media ethics in 2012 after journalists were found to have hacked the phones of celebrities and a murdered schoolgirl.

CPJ and others have called on the U.K. to repeal Section 40, as promised in 2023 via provisions in the Media Bill, as it risks forcing news publishers to sign up to state-backed regulation.

The statement reads as follows:

We are a group of UK-based and international organisations representing news media titles, journalists, and campaigning groups in the UK and territories right across the world.

We welcome the UK government’s commitment to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act via provisions in the Media Bill and urge Parliamentarians to pass this crucial piece of legislation as quickly as possible.

Repealing Section 40 will go a long way towards strengthening the UK’s reputation as a global champion for freedom of speech.

Repressive regimes will be sent a clear message that the UK stands squarely behind freedom of speech. Freedom of speech with no strings attached.

That message is critically important in the uncertain and dangerous world we all now live in. Leading democracies such as the UK must be seen to take a stand.

The UK faces a general election, most likely in the second half of this year. One of the first acts of the next government must be to give a firm and unequivocal commitment to press freedom.

Journalists face a myriad of threats and challenges but their mission of holding power to account and reporting difficult or uncomfortable truths has never been more important.

Attempting to force titles into state-backed regulation, which is what Section 40 was designed to do, is incompatible with the principles of free speech. Never again must the UK go down this dangerous road.

For all of us, the stakes are far too high.

  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • CPU Media Trust
  • English PEN
  • Foreign Press Association
  • Global Witness
  • News Media Association
  • News Media Europe
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Society of Editors

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