The month long press campaign against section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 has failed to make any impact on public opinion with nearly half the public thinking that section 40 is a good idea, with only one in ten against.
A YouGov poll [pdf] commissioned by Hacked Off and conducted on 9 and 10 January 2017 clearly demonstrates that there continues to be a high level of public support for the Leveson proposals for press regulation in general and section 40 in particular.
In relation to section 40, YouGov asked the following question:
“The Leveson Report recommended that a new press regulator must offer members of the public a low cost alternative to court action so that they would not have to risk the high costs of going to court if they had a claim against a newspaper.
To encourage newspapers to join this regulator, newspapers which did not join an approved regulator that offered a low cost alternative to court action to members of the public who felt aggrieved would have to pay all the costs of any court action, even if they won the case, as long as this was not unfair or unjust.
Newspapers which did join an approved regulator that offered a low cost alternative to court action to members of the public who felt aggrieved would not have to pay a claimant’s costs, even if they lost the case as long as this was not unfair or unjust.
Overall, how do you feel about this recommendation”.
Over 80% of those expressing a view (a total of 48% of respondents) thought that this was a good idea, with only 19% of those expressing a view thinking it was a bad idea (41% of respondents were “not sure”).
In addition, nearly three quarters of respondents (72%) believed that it is important that a newspaper self-regulator undergoes an audit to ensure it is effective and that it is genuinely independent of both politicians and the press.
This is, perhaps, not surprising as the same poll shows that only 13% trust tabloid newspapers as sources of news about politics and current affairs. For mid-market newspapers such as the Mail and the Express, the figure rises to only 25%.
Although the press have conducted a vociferous campaign against section 40 and Leveson Part 2, they have not published any opinion poll evidence supporting their campaign. There was only one published poll commissioned on behalf of the press – which was mispresented to suggest that the public were opposed to Impress.
In contrast, an earlier YouGov poll commissioned by Hacked Off showed that 57% favour tougher press regulation and 59% have no confidence in press regulation established by the newspapers.