Wednesday 11 February 2009

Jack Straw says community role of regional newspapers cannot be replaced by web

Justice Secretary Jack Straw described regional newspapers as "irreplaceable" when he gave the keynote speech at the Press Gazette Media Law conference seminar today.
"Regional newspapers are irreplaceable. I don't believe that the role that they play in communities can be replaced by the web - they can be complemented by the web but they can't be replaced," he said.
Straw told the conference that the findings of the Ministry of Justice's review of the "no win, no fee" Conditional Fee Arrangements which can send costs in libel cases soaring would be published this month.
He said it was not acceptable that excessive costs should be charged in no-win no-fee libel cases where the damages awarded are small, especially at a time when regional newspapers are suffering financially.
"There's an issue here of proportionality and of looking very carefully at the way in which the CFA system has operated and whether it's leading to unjust conclusions when newspapers are being forced to settle," he said.
Straw also pledged to take a "good look" at a 160-year-old legal precedent that allows people to sue publishers for online libel without any time limit.

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