The Institute believes the government and Parliament should press ahead ‘without delay’ for legislation to assert a constitutional freedom of the media as a stand alone Act of Parliament. Journalism is facing an unprecedented attack on its rights and freedoms and needs greater protection and independence in order to maintain its role as a watchdog and guardian of democracy.
Whilst the Institute is critical of many recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry, we would support the proposal for a legislative declaration of media freedom that is equivalent to the provision asserting the independence of the judiciary:
GUARANTEE OF MEDIA FREEDOM
(1) The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and other Ministers of the Crown and all with responsibility for matters relating to the media must uphold the freedom of the press and its independence from the executive.
(2) The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport must have regard to:
(a) the importance of the freedom and integrity of the media;
(b) the right of the media and the public to receive and impart information without interference by public authorities;
(c) the need to defend the independence of the media.
(3) Interference with the activities of the media shall be lawful only insofar as it is for a legitimate purpose and is necessary in a democratic society, having full regard to the importance of media freedom in a democracy;” (Page 1780 of Volume 4 of the Leveson Inquiry Report 2012)