Regional Editor Hits Back At Claims Lords IP Bill Amendments Would Not Impact Local Papers

A regional editor has hit back at claims that the Lords amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill would have no impact on local papers. Lady Hollins said yesterday “The local newspaper threat is a smokescreen.”

MPs will vote on the amendments in a Commons debate today (Tuesday).

Gary Shipton, editor in chief of Sussex Newspapers, wrote to Lady Hollins, saying: “As the editor of many highly respected and long-established local newspapers can I say that this is anything but a smokescreen. In his determination of the phone-hacking inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson made clear that local newspapers were guilty of no wrongdoing and should not be penalised as a result of his report.

“Yet we face huge financial hardship if the proposed cost sanctions outlined in the Crime and Courts Act 2013 proceed – and similar hardship if we are forced to join a recognised regulator. The reasons for the former are clear; for the latter may be less so. Regulation under Royal Charter requires newspapers to participate in compensatory arbitration.

“In the only approved scheme from IMPRESS this would require us to pay all the costs of an arbitrated complaint, up to £3,500, plus potentially the successful complainant’s costs of up to £3,000, in addition to unspecified damages. For tiny papers who have seen readers and classified advertisements migrate to entirely unregulated websites and social media, these are enormous sums.”