This week the two main parties published their election manifestos. Labour’s, which is set out below, is tighter than the leak from the previous week, and represents a good basis to build on. The Conservatives, on the other hand have thrown the press owners a life line by pledging to scrap part 2 of Leveson and repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 which would give victims of press abuse access to affordable justice. It also provides that in the event a ‘relevant publisher’ (i.e., a provider of general news in print) is sued, and that publisher has chosen not to register with an ‘approved regulator’ (i.e one that is Leveson compliant), that publisher will be required to pay a claimant’s costs even if the publisher wins in court. The provision was recommended by Leveson and supported by Parliament in 2013, but would only come into force once an approved regulator was set up (as IMPRESS was last autumn (see my blog “After all this time…” 27 October 2016).
It was a narrow victory and one which will not please President Erdogan ,who was hoping for a decisive one. Instead he won by a whisker with an estimated 51.4% of the vote, despite controlling the media and conducting the ‘Yes’ campaign under a state of emergency, (extended for a further three months on 17 April) which limited the ability of opponents to openly campaign for a ‘No’ vote and meant that essential fundamental campaigning freedoms were denied.
After a 6 year ordeal an Istanbul court on 12 April ordered the acquittal of 13 suspects, including journalists and writers, charged with membership of the Ergenekon organisation in the OdaTV case. Among those acquitted is journalist Muyesser Yildiz who was adopted in a solidarity move by the NUJ in 2012. According to press reports the court unanimously acquitted the suspects including journalists Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, Soner Yalçın, Yalçın Küçük and former police chief Hanefi Avcı, based on their pleas, expert reports, witness statements and ‘the wider context of the file’.