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UK takes a tumble in global press freedom league table

By Hamish Mackay

January 27, 2012 | 2 min read

Britain and the US have dropped down a league table which rates the freedom of the press across the world, according to a newspaper website report.

Mail Online says that the UK’s slide from 19th to 28th place is partly blamed on fallout from the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World which prompted the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics.

According to Mail Online: “Researchers from watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RWB), who compiled the World Press Freedom Index, also highlighted liberal libel laws which allow claimants of any nationality to sue in its courts. Libel 'tourism' is seen as a way for the richest to clamp down on freedom of expression.

“There were also concerns that the police had attempted to extract information from a number of private companies – including Blackberry – to identify looters during the London riots.

“America’s performance was even worse. It dropped from 20th to 47th position on the back of heavy-handed police tactics at a string of demonstrations against corporate greed. A number of journalists – as well as protesters – were arrested as the Occupy movement swept across the country.”

Finland, Norway and the Netherlands claimed the top spots in the league table.

Heather Blake, from RWB, is quoted by the website as described the statistics as 'a worrying trend'.

The Press Freedom index reflected a year of upheaval, protest and revolution worldwide - though participation in the Arab Spring was no guarantee of an improved rating.

While Tunisia (up to 134 from 164) and Libya (160 to 154) fared well, Egypt dropped from 127 to 166 after a wave of detentions by the army in the wake of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

Syria, Bahrain and Yemen racked up their worst-ever ratings.

Bottom of the table were Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

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