MPs welcome data bill vote

Stephen MorganStephen Morgan
Stephen Morgan
MPs HAVE welcomed a vote against establishing a new inquiry into media and police relations.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband led moves to amend the Data Protection Bill to establish a statutory inquiry dubbed Leveson part two.

But this was rejected on Wednesday in the House of Commons by 304 votes to 295, a majority of nine, - prompting cries of ‘shame’ in the chamber.

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Tory MPs Penny Mordaunt, for Portsmouth North; Suella Braverman, for Fareham; Caroline Dinenage, for Gosport; Alan Mak, for Havant and George Hollingbery, for Meon Valley, all voted against the amendment.

Alan MakAlan Mak
Alan Mak

But Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan voted in favour.

Mr Mak said: ‘The vote against the Labour party’s attempt to curtail press freedom is a victory for free speech.

‘I was pleased to vote against it.’

Ms Dinenage added: ‘I have always been an advocate for free press and today’s vote will ensure that continues.’

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Caroline DinenageCaroline Dinenage
Caroline Dinenage

Mrs Braverman said free press with proper regulation can be achieved without the amendments proposed.

‘It’s clear that a lot has changed since the Leveson Inquiry concluded in 2012,’ she said.

‘We want a free, sustainable press with proper regulation, and the public should always be able to access a fair and low cost complaints procedure to ensure, where necessary, they are protected.

‘We can achieve this without resorting to Leveson two.’

A second amendment, tabled by shadow culture secretary Tom Watson, would have also seen the introduction of a measure forcing publishers not signed up to a state-backed regulator to pay their opponent’s legal costs in relation to alleged data breaches even if they won the case.

This was abandoned after the SNP withdrew its support.

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Matt Hancock, culture secretary, has hailed the vote a ‘great day for a free and fair press’.

He added the government will work ‘closely’ with the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), the self-regulatory body, to ensure its ‘important work continues’.

Society of Editors executive director Ian Murray welcomed the result. He said: ‘I am delighted that common sense has prevailed and the attempt to impose appalling penalties on the UK’s free press for failing to join a state-recognised regulator has been defeated.

‘The defeat of proposals for a costly second inquiry into the press is also to be welcomed.

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‘As MPs heard, the press has already taken great steps since the Leveson Inquiry to meet the objectives of that report.’

Mr Watson claimed there had been a ‘shameless capitulation to press barons’ from the Tories which left victims of phone hacking ‘ever further from reaching the truth’.

He said: ‘Today was a chance for MPs to finally deliver on promises made to victims of hacking and press intrusion.

‘That chance has been squandered and victims have been betrayed once again.’

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Labour MP Stephen Morgan said: ‘The votes were about keeping the promises made by leaders of all political parties to victims of phone hacking.

‘It’s clear that the public expects us to deliver for those such as the families of Milly Dowler and Madeline McCann. Labour has kept to that promise.

‘But in taking the unprecedented action of overturning the view of the chairing judge and cancelling part two of the public inquiry, the Tories’ have failed past and future victims of press abuse.’