Society of Editors (UK)

The House of Lords has voted to pass the Investigatory Powers Bill (IP) meaning that the legislation is nowUK_0 likely to be implemented within weeks.

The Bill, which was passed earlier this week by the House of Commons without proposed amendments relating to costs orders in phone hacking cases, replaces the widely discredited Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill (RIPA).

The Society of Editors, alongside other media organisations, had opposed the use of RIPA by police officers to access the communications data of journalists and their sources.

Although the government had given some ground to concerns by media organisations, the Society had argued that the Bill did not go far enough in protecting journalistic material. Alongside prior notification to journalists about applications to access their data, media organisations have not been granted any right to appeal decisions made by a judicial commissioner.

Earlier this week the Society welcomed a vote by the House of Commons not to pass an amendment to the Bill relating to costs orders in phone hacking cases. Similar to the provisions in Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, the proposal allows for media organisations to be forced to pay both sides costs, regardless of whether they successfully defend an action.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland had insisted that it was “simply not appropriate” to include within the Bill directions relating to press regulation.

Peers had repeatedly sought to amend the Bill so it implemented a key part of the Leveson Inquiry report by offering “protection” over costs for victims of press intrusion.

But MPs voted to reject the latest Lords amendments by 295 votes to 245, a majority of 50.


Ministers are currently conducting a 10-week consultation which includes examining whether to implement Section 40.

Mr Buckland reiterated that this consultation “speaks directly to the concerns” of those who support the Lords amendments.

He recognised that independent crossbencher Baroness Hollins had revised her amendments, but later told MPs: “They have no place in a Bill that relates to the regulation of investigative powers.

“This is all about national security, this is about dealing with crime whether it’s child abuse, whether it’s trafficking, whether it’s drug dealing, whether it’s the sort of criminality that we want to deal with in our society.

“That’s why these amendments are not only out of place but also they pre-empt the outcome of the consultation launched by (Culture Secretary Karen Bradley).”