'A shameless attempt to shackle press freedom' says Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson of press regulation proposals
“A shameless attempt to shackle press freedom,” is how Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP has labelled Lord McLuskey’s Press Standards (Scotland) Bill recommendations for regulation of the press in Scotland.
Davidson, who was responding to the recommendations released this afternoon by Lord McLuskey who has called for the creation of a regulatory body that will be compulsory for Scotland press to sign up to. Alongside newspapers, online and social media activity targeting a Scottish audience could also be included in the regulations.
In a statement, Davidson commented: “This is a shameless attempt by the First Minister to shackle a free Press at a time of the utmost political sensitivity.”
She continued: “The expert group was instructed by Alex Salmond to find ways of implementing a law to control the press and that’s exactly what it has done.
“Its remit was so narrow it was inevitable a proposal for a new press law would be the outcome.”
Davidson continued to describe the introduction of a Recognition Commissioner, who would be appointed by Scottish Government ministers as “unacceptable” and said that this would lead to “statutory control” and some of “the most draconian press controls in the Western World.”
She added that there was a danger that the First Minister would keep the legislation “hanging over the heads of editors” ahead of the referendum in 2014.
“Even more astonishing is the proposal for the regulator to be responsible for news comment on the internet and for the newspaper industry to provide all the funds.
“It cannot be right that an industry already in crisis should be expected to pay for the regulation of the very thing that's killing it off.
“We are however pleased that the expert group has recognised there’s no specific need for a Scotland-only regulator and a single regulator can operate across the whole UK as at present.”
Allan Rennie, editor-in-chief for Media Scotland has condemned the proposals, while Paul Holleran, Scottish Organiser for the NUJ has welcomed them.