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Free press is only way to expose abuse, MPs warned


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Free-press-is-only-way-to-expose-abuse-MPs-warned.htmlUK Telegraph:

Victims of thalidomide, the Mid Staffs scandal and child abuse are among those who have warned MPs not to throw away 300 years of press freedom when they hold an historic vote on media regulation on Monday.

Talks between the three main political parties will continue on Monday morning in the hope of reaching a cross-party agreement, but if they break down Labour and the Liberal Democrats will join forces in an attempt to force through a form of regulation backed by statute.

Defeat for David Cameron would mean that Hacked Off, the campaign group fronted by Hugh Grant, would win its battle to give MPs some powers to intervene in newspapers’ affairs.

Opponents of statutory regulation argue that in future, newspaper campaigns that expose major scandals would be much harder to carry out under the Labour and Lib Dem model for regulation.

Freddie Astbury, president of Thalidomide UK and a victim of the side-effects of the morning sickness drug, said: “With thalidomide we learned the lesson that it’s very important to have a free press.

“If the Lib Dems and Labour introduce a law making it harder to investigate things like this they will be protecting the likes of pharmaceutical companies and not protecting the victims.

“These companies are well funded and well protected and they support a lot of political parties, but patients must come first and if you’re going to hide the truth you will see an increase in disability.

“People forget that if it wasn’t for papers like The Sunday Times [which fought a five-year court battle to be allowed to print its investigation] we would never have got compensation, that’s why it’s important we protect the freedom of the press.”



Freedom of suppression?

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