Press fines ‘may be unlawful’

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One of the central recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson’s report on press regulation could be unlawful, lawyers commissioned by the newspaper industry have warned.

The joint opinion by three leading QCs concluded that plans to award punitive damages against newspapers which do not sign up to a new regulator violate the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression.

But the lawyers’ opinion was challenged by Hugh Tomlinson QC, chairman of the Hacked Off campaign, who said it was “misconceived” and “another piece of propaganda” from the press.