Say no to Section 40

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The greatest threat to a free British press is Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, a spin-off from the Leveson Inquiry.

If implemented, Section 40 would deter bold, independent, investigative journalism.

The Star is right to urge readers to reject Section 40 (and the second phase of Leveson) via the government consultation process that ends at midnight today.

J Robin Hughes (Letters, January 7), advocates the opposite. He backs an “approved” press regulation system. However, Mr Hughes is silent on the awkward question – approved by whom?

The consultation does have an ‘approved’ regulation system on the table – Impress – approved by government.

The bottom line, therefore, would be that a government-backed body would be the arbiter of what was acceptable in Britain’s newspapers. But what if another part of government doesn’t want journalists sticking their noses in?

That’s a bit tricky if we want our press to push government, local and national.

The last thing Britain’s democracy needs is a press ultimately overseen by a government-backed body.

None of this is abstract for us in South Yorkshire. Two bits of government, Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police, tried their level best to keep nosy journalists out of the stink that was the Rotherham sex grooming scandal.

Only brave and determined journalism, free and independent of government and government-connected bodies, opened the whole wretched Rotherham scandal to public scrutiny.

Without a free press there wouldn’t have been that public scrutiny. Without that press scrutiny of Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police, you can bet that the grooming gang-masters and other perpetrators of wicked sexual acts would still be abusing young and vulnerable girls from our area. Instead, many are behind bars. Well done, an independent press. Let’s keep it that way: say ‘no’ to section 40.

John Hesketh

Crookes