Scotland is to be exempt from Section 40 press regulation

Written by Jenni Davidson on 13 January 2017 in News

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has confirmed the Scottish Government has no plans to introduce Section 40 press regulation in Scotland

Fiona Hyslop - Image credit: David Anderson/Holyrood

Scotland is to be exempt from the press regulation that is being proposed south of the border.

Press regulation is devolved to Scotland and Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has confirmed that the Scottish Government has no plans to introduce statutory measures to persuade Scottish print media to sign up to a state-approved regulator.

Hyslop set out the Scottish Government’s position following the closure of the UK Government’s consultation on section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which relates to the press in England and Wales, this week.


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If section 40 goes ahead it would mean that newspapers would pay the full costs for both sides if they were sued, even if they won the case, unless they had signed up to an “approved regulator”.

There are concerns about the effects it could have on press freedom and investigative journalism, with small local papers in particular unable to bear the costs of a court case.

The Culture Secretary had previously written to the UK Government to advise them that the law would not apply in Scotland and it is for the Scottish Government to decide how to regulate the Scottish press.

Confirming the Scottish Government’s position, Hyslop said: “A diverse and independent media is vital to sustaining a flourishing democracy.

“Any movement by the UK Government to action Section 40 must carefully consider potential threats to the health of our democratic life and to the freedom of the press.

“We are committed to ensuring the practices which led to the Leveson Inquiry in the first place do not happen again and we believe that all individuals should have the ability to seek redress when they feel they have been the victim of press malpractice.

“However, the context of press regulation in Scotland is quite distinct from that in England and Wales and section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act does not apply under Scots Law.

“We have not introduced statutory measures to incentivise participation in the regulatory system, as has happened in Westminster, and I can confirm we have no plans to do so.”  

But despite press regulation being devolved, Scottish local and national media could be impacted by a decision to proceed with section 40 in England and Wales, Hyslop said.

She commented: “[I]t is my view that the measures consulted on by the UK Government would put at risk the viability of much of our independent media, particularly local newspapers, and pose a potential threat to freedom of the press.”

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