View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
June 30, 2014

Attorney General backs down on plan to censor news archives to avoid contempt risk

By William Turvill

Attorney General Dominic Grieve (pictured: Reuters) has today withdrawn clauses in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that would have given him power to order the removal of online archive news stories in the run-up to a criminal trial.

Clauses 37 and 38 were set to introduce new powers allowing the Attorney General and the courts to require owners of online news archives to remove material which might prejudice upcoming proceedings.

If the website operators failed to comply, the proposals stipulated that criminal sanctions could follow in the form of either an unlimited fine or imprisonment.

The Society of Editors, which made representations to the AG alongside the Newspaper Society and Media Lawyers Association, announced this afternoon that “the new defence counterbalanced by the AG’s notice powers are to be removed by government amendment”.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “When we met the Attorney we said it would be wrong in principle for a member of the government to have power to order media organisations to take down material. 

“We also told him that it would cause huge practical problems if defence lawyers sought blanket orders to taken down material which could be seen by jurors.

“We are very pleased that the Attorney has listened to our concerns.”

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network