A victory
for the Trumps

A week after they ran a featured cover story headlined: “The
mystery of Melania,” the Daily Telegraph has apologised and agreed to pay
substantial damages to the US First Lady. In an extraordinarily candid
correction issued last Saturday, the newspaper stated how the story “contained
a number of false statements which [they] accept should not have been
published”.

For once, a national newspaper corrects and apologises
quickly for serious inaccuracies about someone. That’s great, right?

National newspapers should correct and apologise quickly for
such serious errors, of course. But most victims of libel or serious inaccuracy
spend months, if not years, in legal proceedings, or battling against IPSO, to
get some kind of justice – not a detailed correction, apology and settlement in
days.

Leveson found that it could be ruinously expensive for
newspapers to defend legal claims – especially when the litigants were wealthy.
Yet, the wealthy and the powerful are precisely the people who should be the
subject of press enquiry and investigation.

Equally, Leveson found that some ordinary people who were
the victims of libel were being deprived of access to justice, as going through
the courts can be so risky and costly.

Leveson’s solution? A new mechanism to dramatically cut
legal costs for newspapers, while making it possible for anyone illegally
wronged to bring a claim – provided it was genuine.

It was a breakthrough
for freedom of expression – or it would have been – if it wasn’t for the fact
that the Daily Telegraph and other newspapers opposed it at every turn and
continue to reject the system.

Their rejection exposes the fact that corporately, some of
these newspapers aren’t very interested in freedom of speech at all.  And
now, whenever faced with legal action from a wealthy claimant, The Telegraph
has little choice but to settle quickly and humiliatingly.

The Telegraph should join an independent regulator and
campaign for the full Leveson system to be implemented, so they wouldn’t have
to worry about bankruptcy after a costly lawsuit. Newspapers should be speaking
the truth to the powerful and standing up for the voiceless. But, because they
rejected the Leveson system, most newspapers are running scared from the rich,
while ordinary people are left defenceless.

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The post A victory for the Trumps appeared first on Hacked Off.

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