Evgeny Lebedev tells MPs that libel laws are too strict

Evgeny LebedevEvgeny Lebedev, the proprietor of The Independent and The Evening Standard and Chairman of the Journalism Foundation’s Trustees, believes that the British press is over-legislated and under-regulated.

Appearing at a parliamentary committee hearing yesterday, he told MPs and peers that the UK’s “draconian” libel laws are stifling genuine investigative journalism, which in turn is hindering the public interest.

“There is too much legislation that prevents newspapers from carrying out investigative journalism.”

Lebedev added that British libel laws are proving to be an obstacle to a number of genuine investigative cases, which The Independent currently wants to pursue.

He also criticised the British press for being under-regulated by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) telling the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions that he thinks the PCC is flawed because of its lack of independence. He added that “it is not transparent and it is not understandable to how the public works.”

The newspaper proprietor, who was born in Russia, also stressed the importance of press freedom. In an article written by Lebedev in The Times last December, he said: “We know what it is like to live in a country where freedom of speech is constrained, and we know the inestimable value of the freedom we have in Britain, encapsulated, for good and sometimes for ill, in the press.”

Chris Blackhurst, the editor of The Independent, who also gave evidence at the committee, said: “I think there is recognition among editors, including myself, that the PCC as it is currently set up is not fit for purpose”.

Source: The Independent

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