Independent Press Council Bill (HL Bill 69)

A

BILL

TO

Provide the framework for the appointment and functions of a Press Council
to act independently and in the public interest to promote and protect
freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, in communicating
information and opinions to the public, to encourage and maintain
professional standards and practices, and to provide redress for victims of
professional misconduct; and for connected purposes.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Certification

(1) The Secretary of State shall send this Act to the President of the United
Kingdom Supreme Court.

(2) The President of the United Kingdom Supreme Court may certify that a
5proposal to establish and operate the Independent Press Council complies with
the requirements set out in section 3, for the purposes of section 5(3).

2 Interpretation

In this Act—

(a) “freedom of expression” means the fundamental right to freedom of
10expression (protected by the common law and Human Rights Act 1998)
to communicate information and opinions without interference by
public authority and regardless of frontiers;

(b) “freedom of the press” means the exercise by the press of the right to
freedom of expression subject to their professional duties and
15responsibilities.

3 The Independent Press Council

(1) There will be a body corporate called “the Independent Press Council” and
established by newspaper publishers as a company limited by guarantee.

Independent Press Council BillPage 2

(2) In this Act, the Independent Press Council is referred to as “the Council”.

(3) Ministers of the Crown and all others with public responsibility for matters
relating to the press must uphold freedom of expression, including freedom of
the press, and the independence of the Council.

(4) 5The Council will be governed by a Board which will consist of a chairman and
ten other members.

(5) The chairman will be a lay member.

(6) Of the other members, five will be professional members with experience of the
newspaper industry, including not more than one current editor, and five lay
10members.

(7) The chairman and other members will be appointed fairly and openly by an
independent panel, a majority of whom will be independent of the press, but
will include people with knowledge and experience of the newspaper
industry.

(8) 15Neither the Board nor the panel will include any Member of either House of
Parliament, or Minister of the Crown or person employed in the service of the
State.

(9) The panel must select individuals for appointment with a view to securing, so
far as is practicable, that those appointed are qualified to govern in a way
20compatible with the performance of the Council’s functions.

(10) The Council will act independently and in the public interest in performing the
following functions of a public nature—

(a) promoting and protecting freedom of expression and freedom of the
press;

(b) 25encouraging and maintaining high professional standards and good
practices for the newspaper industry, editors and journalists;

(c) considering complaints of professional misconduct; and

(d) providing redress and imposing sanctions for professional misconduct.

(11) The Council will be funded by subscriptions paid by the newspaper publishers
30subscribing to the Council, with different terms being available for different
types of publisher.

4 Legal proceedings against newspapers, etc

(1) This section applies to any proceedings in which the court has to consider for
the purpose of determining liability or granting relief whether a newspaper or
35its editor or staff has acted irresponsibly in gathering or publishing
information or opinions adversely affecting an individual’s good reputation or
private life.

(2) In such circumstances, the court must have particular regard to whether—

(a) the newspaper publisher is a subscriber to the Council, and

(b) 40the newspaper publisher, its editor or staff have acted in accordance
with standards and practices prescribed by the Council as appropriate
and necessary for the profession of journalism.

(3) Where the newspaper publisher is not a subscriber to the Council, the court
may take account of adherence to standards equivalent to those prescribed by
45the Council.

Independent Press Council BillPage 3

5 Short title, commencement, application and extent

(1) This Act may be cited as the Independent Press Council Act 2013.

(2) Section 1 shall come into force on Royal Assent.

(3) Sections 2 to 4 shall come into force when the President of the Supreme Court
5has certified the scheme in accordance with section 1(2).

(4) This Act binds the Crown.

(5) This Act extends to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.