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Section 40: We will not be cowed by conceit

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Theresa May is right when she describes the newspaper industry as a bedrock of democracy and informed opinion.

The Express & Star's headquarters in Wolverhampton

The regional press tries to stay above the rabble-rousing noise of social media, instead providing a platform for informed debate for local people about issues that affect them.

Only this week an Express & Star poll over whether Enoch Powell should get a blue plaque in Wolverhampton has drawn more than 15,000 votes.

It follows a recent debate on the issue at the city’s university that was widely praised for its reasoned handling of such a sensitive subject.

Without local newspapers, how would people find out who has been in court, or what our town halls are spending our money on? Who would hold to account our MPs and councillors?

Yet the unelected – and largely unwanted – House of Lords is attempting to undermine democracy by making an amendment to the obscure Data Protection Act.

Peers have voted to support a hugely significant piece of legislation that if it finds its way into the statute book, will have a disastrous impact on the newspaper industry.

The measure would see newspapers having to pay full court costs in libel cases, even if the complaint is thrown out.

It is the equivalent of someone throwing a brick through your window, and then sending you the repair bill.

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The Prime Minister and her Government should be praised for their steadfastness in rejecting this draconian legislation.

It is deeply worrying that more than 200 newspapers have closed in this country since 2005.

The E&S prides itself on having a serious news agenda that focuses on campaigning on local issues, and maintaining a proud history of high quality investigative journalism.

We should not and will not be cowed by the actions of unelected, self-interested peers.

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Many of them are not acting with the interests of the public in mind, but out of long held grievances with the national press.

This is a betrayal of the very notion of democracy.

Mrs May has made it clear that she understands the importance of credible news outlets.

Any attempts to undermine the free press should be given very short shrift.

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