Crime and Courts Bill part 2
Lord Black of Brentwood attacked proposals to create a royal charter for press regulation in response to the Leveson report on 25 March 2013.
Speaking as peers considered Commons amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill, the Conservative peer deplored the rushed nature of the legislation. Describing the proposals as "cobbled together", Lord Black said they were likely to "deal a serious blow to investigative journalism".
Lord Black said the bill left small publishers and investigative journalists in doubt as to the level of risk they faced from libel action. "We should take real note on how these measures would impact, not on celebrities, but on political reporting," said Lord Black.
Fellow Conservative peer Lord Lucas had tabled a series of amendments seeking to clarify the position of small blogs, small publishers and local newspapers under the press regulation proposals.
Lord Lucas said he feared new publishers would be prohibited from expanding or setting up new businesses due to the risk of heavy fines if they lost claims for damages.
Answering for the government, Lord McNally strongly defended the proposals - which had been agreed by all parties in the Commons.
"This is not some Orwellian plot against the freedom of the press," said Lord McNally, stating that many in the Lords "would literally lay down their lives to defend the freedom of the press".
Lord McNally said he had not heard any "recognition of the deep disgust felt by the public" at the actions of the press from Lord Black, executive director of the Telegraph group.
Lord McNally went on to reject calls for local newspapers and foreign publications to be exempt from the press regulator.
Peers agreed the first tranche of government amendments relating to the Leveson report. Further proposals relating to data protection and freedom of information will be brought forward after the Easter recess.
Debate of Commons amendments continued with amendments relating to extradition, and the seizure of proceeds of crime. All government amendments were passed without a vote.