B1467 – Prohibition of Media Identification of Suspects Bill 2019 (Second Reading) Watch

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Saracen's Fez
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B1467 – Prohibition of Media Identification of Suspects Bill 2019 (Second Reading), TSR Government
A
BILL
TO

Prevent media organisations from publicly identifying suspects of crimes prior to their conviction.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1(X)Definitions
(1) In this Act
(X) (a) ‘media organisations’ refers to a person or entity engaged in disseminating information to the general public through a newspaper, magazine, other publication, radio, television, cable television, online website, or other medium of mass communication.
(X) (b) ‘suspects of crimes’ refers to the investigation or arrest of an individual by the police, government or another agency.
(X) (c) ‘conviction’ refers to the formal declaration by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law that someone is guilty of a criminal offence.
(2) All other terms, not explicitly defined, are to be defined as in existing legislation, notably the Defamation Act of 2013 and the Data Protection Act of 2018.

2(X)Enforcement
(1) It shall hereby be made illegal for media organisations to publicly release personal information regarding suspects of criminal offences who have not yet been convicted unless this information is officially and publicly released first by the following groups, at which point the media may publish the information provided by:
(X) (a) the Crown Prosecution Service, or
(X) (b) a police spokesperson, or
(X) (c) another governmental agency
(2) The violation of this Act shall result in the:
(X) (a) remuneration to the suspect as decided by a jury and/or judge in a court of law at a level deemed proportional to any financial loss, and other damages, or
(X) (b) the application of a financial penalty upon the publishing principle media organisation and/or the author of the release, as deemed conducive.

3(X)Citation and Commencement:
(1) This act extends to the whole of the United Kingdom.
(2) This act will come into force upon Royal Assent.
(3) This act may be cited as the Prohibition of Media Identification of Suspects Bill 2019.

Notes
The exposure of suspects firstly impedes the 'active' police investigation, which is in contempt of court under the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Secondly, the fierce competition of news outlets to break a story (especially involving well-known public figures) often infers that the suspect might be guilty and is thus defamatory.

For example, the widespread publication of Sir Cliff Richard being investigated over historical sexual abuse claims against him; after an investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service announced they would drop the charges.

For example, the arrest of a couple over December 2018's Gatwick airport drone attacks found them innocent after a day, despite their names, faces and addresses being publicly disclosed and leaving their reputations tarnished and vulnerable to revenge from furious travellers.


Changes for the Second Reading
Definitions have been brought in line with existing legislation; the extent of action has been amended (there is no defined limit to damages; the sentence for the author has been removed).

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Connor27
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Still no - freedom of the press.
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Lord Vitiate
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I consider this Bill slightly more positively because it balances the three principles which I cited at the first reading of this Bill. I believe it to be suitable enough to garner support.
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jj.flyaway
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I support this bill.

The UK is already one of the worst developed countries in terms of press freedom. We are ranked 40th out of 180. The press should be able to report on what they find out and their general opinions on it, because frankly, that's their job.

However, the destructive nature the press can have should be taken into account. When innocent people are accused of crimes, their reputations are torn apart. I think there should be a greater protection of the suspect's identity. However, the government should not be able to take action when the information is leaked.

This bill allows for both sides to balance. The press can report as soon as public organisations have released the information, as well as protecting innocent people from hollow accusations.
Last edited by jj.flyaway; 6 months ago
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Rakas21
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I fully support this bill.
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Joleee
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i must vote no. open justice is fundamental to the legal system and we can't rely on the government, the police or the courts to decide what the public knows about. if we allowed institutions to pick and choose what they report on, the public wouldn’t’ trust the system. then we'd have debates on secretive judiciary, secretive police and accusations of corruption. transparency keeps courts and the police accountable and secures public confidence. it's not enough to know when persons are found guilty - the public needs to know when persons are found innocent - so we know that justice is being done and we're not hauling everyone off to prison. so while it seems unfair the public gets to form their own opinion on suspects, open justice wins in my opinion.

still, i must point out the definition of 'suspect' isn't quite clear. there's a huge difference between someone being investigated (a suspect) and someone facing charges and a trial (defendant). so if it comes to next reading, maybe look at s.2(1)?
Last edited by Joleee; 6 months ago
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Mactotaur
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We've had too many Jay Cheshires (and Karin Cheshires); it's high time something like this was passed.

That said, 1(1)(b) could do with some clarification:

(b) ‘suspects of crimes’ refers to the investigation or arrest of an individual by the police, government or another agency.
Here's how I would rephrase it.

(b) 'suspects of crimes' refers to individuals arrested or under investigation for a crime by the police, government, or government-affiliated agency (such as the National Crime Agency).
I also don't think this needs to apply to every crime, just those which are considered most heinous (and are likely to ruin someone's reputation) - drug offences, offences against the person, and sexual offences.
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ns_2
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(Original post by Joleee)
i must vote no. open justice is fundamental to the legal system and we can't rely on the government, the police or the courts to decide what the public knows about. if we allowed institutions to pick and choose what they report on, the public wouldn’t’ trust the system. then we'd have debates on secretive judiciary, secretive police and accusations of corruption. transparency keeps courts and the police accountable and secures public confidence. it's not enough to know when persons are found guilty - the public needs to know when persons are found innocent - so we know that justice is being done and we're not hauling everyone off to prison. so while it seems unfair the public gets to form their own opinion on suspects, open justice wins in my opinion.

still, i must point out the definition of 'suspect' isn't quite clear. there's a huge difference between someone being investigated (a suspect) and someone facing charges and a trial (defendant). so if it comes to next reading, maybe look at s.2(1)?
This Bill focuses solely on the investigation aspect - i.e. prior to formal charges being brought, no media organisation can publish information on a suspect until the relevant body permits them to do so, or the suspect is formally charged with a crime.

To that end, we believe that this enables a continued balance in transparency and privacy.
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Jammy Duel
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(Original post by ns_2)
This Bill focuses solely on the investigation aspect - i.e. prior to formal charges being brought, no media organisation can publish information on a suspect until the relevant body permits them to do so, or the suspect is formally charged with a crime.

To that end, we believe that this enables a continued balance in transparency and privacy.
Convicted*
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Joleee
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(Original post by ns_2)
This Bill focuses solely on the investigation aspect - i.e. prior to formal charges being brought, no media organisation can publish information on a suspect until the relevant body permits them to do so, or the suspect is formally charged with a crime.

To that end, we believe that this enables a continued balance in transparency and privacy.
(Original post by Jammy Duel)
Convicted*

ok thank you. which proves my point. this bill is confusing.

protecting persons - up until they are 'convicted' as per section 2(1) - means you're not just including suspects under investigation - you are including defendants during trial as well. one cannot face 'conviction' unless you're in trial first.

in which case i moved to strike down this bill asap as i'm assuming members were/are voting based on the assumption of protecting persons up until the point of conviction (s.2(1)). i can read the confusion from the comments in the first reading. some members think we are protecting defendants as well.
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SankaraInBloom
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I'm fundamentally opposed to something like this. As someone who's involved in the media myself, we're already pretty restricted. Preventing the reportage of suspect's names just provides another unnecessary stumbling block in the day to day operation of journalistic practices.

Furthermore, this has been attempted before. The Thatcher government both introduced then removed suspect anonymity during their tenure, due to the fact that it was entirely impractical both to press freedom and the core principle of open justice. Must we not remember that a fundamental part of this concept is to allow the press open access to a trial, which they cannot freely report as well without access to a suspect's name. I would occasionally go further than the current arrangement and recommend that youths who've committed serious crimes such as rape or murder should be exempt from reporting restrictions, but I ultimately understand why such enforcements are in place and wouldn't wish to unnecessary impede on them.
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ns_2
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(Original post by Mactotaur)
We've had too many Jay Cheshires (and Karin Cheshires); it's high time something like this was passed.

That said, 1(1)(b) could do with some clarification:



Here's how I would rephrase it.



I also don't think this needs to apply to every crime, just those which are considered most heinous (and are likely to ruin someone's reputation) - drug offences, offences against the person, and sexual offences.
Ultimately, the discretion lies with the CPS or police force in question - though this Bill is envisaged as applying primarily to crimes which would seriously and publicly destroy one's reputation.
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Saracen's Fez
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This bill is in cessation.
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Division! Clear the lobbies!
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