Author Archives: Lord Anthony Lester

Lord Anthony Lester writes…We will march in the streets for the BBC

Tomorrow the government will publish a white paper setting out its plans for the future of the BBC. At the BAFTA awards on Sunday the director Peter Kosminsky rightly received a standing ovation. He used his acceptance speech to voice his fear that the White Paper will compromise our precious, independent, world-renowned organisation. He cautioned that the BBC was on a path to evisceration that would leave the broadcasting landscape bereft – and the output of television and radio determined solely by what lines the pockets of shareholders.

Those fears are not fanciful. The BBC has retained its reputation for world-class programming over the last decade despite increasingly painful cuts. As Lord Patten pointed out in a major lecture at the Reuter’s institute last week, the BBC’s real income has fallen over the past decade by more than 15%. In the past five years alone BSkyB’s revenues went up by more than 16% and ITV’s increased by 21%.

Being effective as a public services broadcaster depends on having a guaranteed source of revenue. That is and has been the licence fee. It must be owned by the BBC, not by the government. It must not be sliced off to feed commercial rivals. The government has no business raiding it, like when it dumped the cost of free licences for the over 75s on the BBC rather than taxpayers. That undermined morale within the BBC as well as public trust and confidence. The BBC is not an arm of government that sets welfare policy and it would cause public outrage if it were forced to become one. The BBC must stand independent from government, free to call it to account.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 19 Comments

Lord Anthony Lester writes…We must act against Daesh

I marched against the invasion of Iraq and spoke against the illegality of that invasion. I believe that Chilcot will vindicate that view. The situation we now face is completely different.

With huge parliamentary backing we have already taken part in a lawful armed intervention against Daesh in Iraq, it is absurd to argue that we cannot lawfully do the same in Syria in accordance with UN Resolution 2249 (2015) on Daesh.

The resolution describes Daesh as a “global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security,” it says that the Security Council is determined to combat, by all means, this “unprecedented threat to international peace and security.” The resolution calls on member states to take all necessary measure on the territory under the control of Daesh in Syria and Iraq and to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks committed by Daesh and other terrorist groups. Member states are called upon to “eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant party of Iraq and Syria.”

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Lord Anthony Lester writes: Free speech is the lifeblood of democracy

When I began drafting my private member’s bill to reform the law of libel in early 2010, with the help of the Libel Reform Campaign, the Lib Dems were the only party committed to reform, having grasped the chilling effect on free speech caused by the vagueness and uncertainty of the law, and the extortionate legal costs which accompany it.

By the time of the election that year, successful campaigning meant that all three main parties included libel reform in their manifesto commitments.

A pledge to reform libel law to better protect freedom of expression was included in the coalition agreement, and …

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Opinion: The pressing need for libel reform

Our libel law is complex, costly and out of date. It lacks certainty and sweeps too broadly in ways that threaten freedom of speech. That is why I have prepared a Defamation Bill to act as a catalyst enabling the coalition Government to give effect to their commitment to review libel laws, and to give Parliament the opportunity to make better law.

Recent calls for libel law reform have come from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Report Press Standards, Privacy and Libel, the Ministry of Justice Working Group on Libel, and the Libel Reform Campaign led by a coalition …

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