For those who celebrating @carolecadwalla's wonderful #libel victory who now want an overhaul of libel law to prevent journalists being bullied in this way, I have good news. A potentially very useful, if not quite complete, solution is ready and waiting. 1/12
Leveson proposed, and in 2013 Parliament endorsed in law, an arrangement to protect news publishers from 'chilling' by wealthy litigants. Why is it not in force? Because the newspaper corporations didn't like it and the Conservative government shelved it at their behest. 2/12
To be clear, the Leveson arrangement, which involved pushing litigants into low-cost arbitration rather than expensive court proceedings, would not have protected @carolecadwalla in her case. But it would shield any journalist writing for a participating newspaper/website. 3/12
The necessary law is actually on the statute books (though the Tories never 'commenced' it and they and their press friends now want to repeal it).
Put simply, Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act would deprive litigants of the advantages of wealth. 4/12
If they refused to submit their claims to cheap arbitration they could still go to court, but (in most cases) they would have to pay both sides' costs, win or lose. So reporters and editors could not be 'chilled' by the fear of huge legal bills and long proceedings. 5/12
One reason why the corporate papers rejected this is that under S40 it would apply to them too. In other words, if a person of ordinary means sued a paper for libel, the paper would have to accept cheap arbitration or else (usually) pay both sides' court costs, win or lose. 6/12
The papers really didn't like that idea. It seems the Mail, Times etc like having the power to deny justice to ordinary people more than they care about journalists being gagged by rich people. (Not so surprising: it's rich people who own these papers.) 7/12
Another reason the big papers (@Guardian and @FT incl) don't like Section 40 is that participation in the arbitration system, for good reason, was linked to accepting effective, independent regulation (that's independent of both industry and political influence). 8/12
Despite low current levels of trust in print journalism, and despite abundant evidence of low ethical standards and rampant inaccuracy in the corporate press, the big press groups prefer their puppet complaints outfit @ipsonews, or no regulation at all (@Guardian and @FT). 9/12
That's the @ipsonews that – in 8 years' operation – has never detected a single problem in the press worrying enough to merit investigation, has never come within a mile of imposing a fine and has never spotted a single instance of racial or religious discrimination. 10/12
So – to be clear – the reason press journalists do not enjoy protection from bullying libel litigation is because their bosses don't want it. (As I said, S40 would not have protected @carolecadwalla, who was sued personally and was not indemnified by the Observer or TED.) 11/12
But the good news is that, for newspaper journalists, effective protection from 'chilling' and 'SLAPPs' is just a ministerial signature away. If those journalists really want it they should ask their bosses to tell Nadine Dorries. She will do what those bosses say. 12/12

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More from @BrianCathcart

May 12
Some further observations on the government's corrupt Covid 'bung' to its press cronies, as discussed in yesterday's remarkable tweet by Dominic Cummings @Dominic2306 🧵 ('him' = Boris Johnson) @BylineTimes 1/10 Image
First I should repeat that we don't just have the word of a disaffected former adviser for this. Though never reported in the mainstream (for obvious reasons) this was in plain sight. I last wrote about it here: (2/10)…
As Cummings said, the officials 'dressed this up' as 'Covid relief'. In fact it was dressed up as a public service advertising campaign, which remains the cover story to this day. Downing St yesterday: (3/10) Image
Read 10 tweets
Mar 30
When national newspapers and their journalists complain about being bullied by unscrupulous lawyers acting for shady rich people (and they are complaining about it a lot just now), there is something very important they are not telling you. A thread. 1/15
Make no mistake: this kind of bullying, which is known in journalism as 'chilling', sometimes happens and is not good. Rich litigants – individuals and companies – are sometimes able to hamstring worthwhile journalism by imposing huge legal costs risks on news publishers. 2/15
Editors, we are told, have shied away from investigations even when they were of pressing public interest value because they concluded that, even if they were likely to win a legal contest in the end, all the uncertainty and expense along the way were just too great to bear. 3/15
Read 16 tweets
Feb 20
More shameful and dishonest journalism here from the Telegraph. Nowhere in this article did the interviewee say anything like this. What she actually said that she is ‘full of love’ for the National Trust. And that’s only the start. . . (thread)
This is the Telegraph pursuing the ludicrous vendetta of the right-wing papers against was they call the ‘increasingly woke’ National Trust (see below). And there isn't just one unsubstantiated headline in this case, there are two. 2/…
The headline from the print edition is 'Cancel Culture? At least we're not the National Trust'. That line doesn't appear in the article either, and while the online headline has been changed after protests that print one endures. The Telegraph needs to publish a correction. 3/
Read 11 tweets
Jan 28
What we are witnessing is the UK's equivalent of the storming of the Capitol. Johnson should no longer be PM and everybody bar a few fanatics knows it, but (with the Met's assistance) an outrageous attempt is being made to keep him in office. 1/4
The constitution, such as it is, is being torn up. Governments and PMs are supposed to be constrained by the law and the police are meant to uphold the law. MPs are not supposed to lie and other MPs are meant to police that. Such checks and balances are being set aside. 2/4
Johnson's position is by normal UK measures untenable. No one could claim he has behaved with the propriety we should expect from a PM and it doesn't take Sue Gray or the Met to prove it. By refusing to quit he is defying all precedent – staging a kind of coup. 3/4
Read 4 tweets
Dec 2, 2021
You can read the full #Meghan judgment here:…) But here is a thread of extracts.
'The extensive new evidence seems to have been more directed at correcting allegations raised in the pleadings than at issues relevant to the question at hand, namely whether the judge should have granted summary judgment in this case.'
'The fact that the Duchess permitted her staff to meet with the authors [of the book Finding Freedom] … was of no consequence to what he [Lord Justice Warby, the judge in the lower court] had to decide.'
Read 17 tweets
Dec 2, 2021
The Mail's tactic in the #meghan case was always to pretend, in public, that it was the Duchess who was on trial. She never was. It was the Mail that was required to defend what it had done, and it simply could not. 1/5
She has won resoundingly at every stage. A High Court judge who the Mail almost certainly believed would be sympathy to its case gave victory to the Duchess in February without even holding a trial... 2/5
... and now three very senior judges at the Court of Appeal have thrown out the Mail's case again. To add insult to injury they said that yes, the Mail could have its 'new evidence', but then they explained that the new evidence changed nothing. 3/5
Read 5 tweets

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