Who guards the guards – IPSO- Press regulator or complaints handler?

Last month saw the publication of a new report from University of Westminster which reveals for the first time how the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) the press regulator which covers most of the UK’s largest print and online publishers, was set up largely as a predetermined industry plan rather than as a response to the Leveson Inquiry which reported in November 2012, (and see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/leveson-inquiry-report-into-the-culture-practices-and-ethics-of-the-press

It also reveals how a last-minute wording change, introduced by those publishers behind IPSO’s launch, effectively removed IPSO’s ability to launch a standards investigation or impose sanctions.

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Beware, revamped and tougher official secrets laws are coming!

“Too often the state uses official secrets legislation to hide things that are embarrassing, such as the involvement of the British State in torture or rendition.” Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith and co-founder of Reprieve, a human rights not-for-profit organisation, December 2019.

It went almost unnoticed in the Queen’s Speech on 11 May when she announced that “legislation will be introduced to counter hostile activity by foreign states (Counter-State Threats Bill…).” Two days later the government announced a Home Office  consultation on its legislative proposals which will run until 11.45 pm on 22 July, details at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/legislation-to-counter-state-threats It includes the reform of the Official Secrets Acts 1911, 1920 and 1939 which contain the core espionage offences which the government claims have failed to keep pace with current threats and legal standards. And reform of the Official Secrets Act 1989, which governs the law around the unauthorised disclosure of official material and its onward disclosure.

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No happy 50th for Julian Assange

Saturday 3 July was WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s 50th birthday, but he did not have much to celebrate. The attempt to extradite Assange to the United States was rejected in January, but bail was refused and he continues to be held in Belmarsh prison pending an appeal. It was the third birthday he has spent in the high-security prison in south east London.

To mark the day there was a giant picnic blanket in London’s Parliament Square stencilled with a Free Assange slogan. Julian’s partner and mother of their two children, Stella Moris, cut a birthday cake. She has asked the authorities in Belmarsh if the couple can get married, and hopes Assange will be granted permission to get married outside the prison. Stella Moris is a lawyer and a member of Assange’s legal team.

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