Press regulation: Lord McCluskey hits back

A FORMER High Court judge has hit back at culture secretary Fiona Hyslop in a row over Scottish plans to implement Lord Leveson’s proposals on the newspaper industry.
Lord McCluskey. Picture: PALord McCluskey. Picture: PA
Lord McCluskey. Picture: PA

Lord McCluskey’s expert group was accused of overstepping its remit by Ms Hyslop during an appearance before MSPs this week.

In a letter to The Scotsman today, the former solicitor general insists his group “faced up to the real problems” and denounced the UK government’s royal charter, which the Scottish Government now wants to see cover Scotland.

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Ms Hyslop told Holyrood’s culture committee on Tuesday that the McCluskey group had “most certainly” exceeded its remit by calling for a compulsory system of regulation.

But Lord McCluskey writes that his group stuck “exactly” to its remit. All “significant” news publishers were expected to accept a self-regulatory body on a voluntary basis, Lord Leveson said. But incentives to encourage participation included the use of “exemplary” damages which are only available in English law.

“The methods suggested were not available in Scots Law and were seriously challengeable under European law,” Lord McCluskey added. “Not only that: a number of ‘significant news publishers’ had already made it clear that they would not join a voluntary scheme, whatever the incentives. We had no sound basis for suggesting that Scots law could provide effective incentives to make them all join voluntarily.”