Thank you for contacting me about press intrusion into grief and press regulation.
I know that many people rightly feel very strongly about this issue and I appreciate that it must be especially difficult for people who have experienced a bereavement to receive press enquiries into it.
As you may have seen, research by Hacked Off shows that only seven of 257 complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation of press intrusion into grief have ever been upheld.
Currently clause 4 of the Editors’ Code of Practice states: ‘In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.”
I believe that it is unacceptable that newspapers should intrude into personal lives without justification or accountability.
Therefore I am pleased that Labour have committed to examine the questions of regulation ahead of the next election.
More widely, I am concerned that the online space is severely lacking in regulation, meaning that misinformation and disinformation can be shared more widely and more easily online than has ever previously been possible. It is a devastating blow that the Government has put the Online Safety Bill on hold. I believe it is not prioritising people’s online safety, although it has pledged to do so since 2018 by introducing regulation for online spaces.
We need effective, fit-for-purpose legislation that cracks down on the harms, hate and fake news that flourishes online. It is vital we protect young and vulnerable people from online harms.
I have long argued that the legislation should contain criminal sanctions for senior tech executives who repeatedly breach the new law, and therefore welcome the Government’s commitment to this. However, I believe they must be contained within the Bill as a default.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue. I hope the Government will carefully consider the concerns raised by Hacked Off and its supporters.