Howard supports press freedom

Contributed by admin on May 07, 2004 - 10:17 AM

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<FONT face=Arial color=black size=4>HOWARD SUPPORTS PRESS FREEDOM

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Michael Howard
<TD width=5><IMG height=1 alt="" src="" width=5>Speaking to the London Press Club Awards at the Savoy Hotel, Conservative Party Leader, Michael Howard, has supported freedom of the press, asserting that a Conservative Government will never regulate by law if a voluntary approach is possible.

He explained, "the newspaper and magazine publishing industry - alongside the advertising industry - is an excellent example of this. You have created, and administer, a practical and effective form of self regulation under a tough and flexible Code of Practice. This is infinitely preferable to any form of state control of editorial content, which would be an unacceptable infringement of freedom of expression."

Mr Howard stated, "We Conservatives support your right to regulate yourselves - it is a crucial part of press freedom. Indeed, we have twice fought against measures which we believed could undermine your self regulation. o­ne was Labour's Human Rights Act, which we argued could usher in a judge-made privacy law. The other was the Communications Act, which I believe hands powers to OFCOM over newspaper mergers and regulations which could undermine press freedom."

Mr Howard, commented, "I remain concerned about the impact of both these pieces of legislation over the newspaper and magazine publishing industry. Although there have been relatively few cases under the Human Rights Act in this area, there is a continuing danger that the Courts could use it to fashion a privacy law. I am opposed to the courts fashioning legislation that should be for Parliament to decide - and I doubt that Parliament could ever form a workable privacy law. The next Conservative Government will review the workings of the Human Rights Act and if we find it to be defective, we will amend it."