Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid, wrapped up the Society of Editors’ conference with a keynote speech this morning (Tuesday).
He proposed a new British Bill of Rights, pledging that if the Tories gain a majority at the next election they will scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act in favour of a new bill “passed in our Parliament and rooted in our values; it will restore British judges as the ultimate arbiters of British justice.”
Mr Javid added the new British Bill of Rights would include specific protection for journalists.
He said: “The Human Rights Act and the European Courts have not done enough to protect journalists who play such a unique role in our society.
“The way some people and organisations have used RIPA and the European courts represent a direct assault of press freedom.”
Mr Javid quoted Karl Marx: “You cannot pluck the rose without its thorns,” to stress that there are difficulties that come with a free press, especially in the risk that the press has occasionally taken advantage of the freedom given to it.
He said: “I’m not naïve enough to think that all reporters are towering beacons of integrity. But for every reporter or editor who has gone too far, there are countless more examples of good journalism done well.”
And he had further praise for the industry at the tail end of his speech: “British newspapers are simply without equal. And that’s why you are the right people – the only people – to take the lead on developing and enforcing a new set of press standards.”
He added: “Unethical or inaccurate reporting should be policed not by the state, but by an industry-led regulatory system.”
“I have no time for those who seek to dismiss Fleet Street’s finest as corrupt criminals who should be regulated out of existence by an overbearing state.
“Britain’s newspapers remain the best in the world. A vital bulwark against wrongdoing. A voice for the voiceless. The very foundation upon which our democracy stands.”