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15 August 2019

London Councils Lose Appeal Over Council Newspapers

London authorities Hackney and Wandsworth, which previously published fortnightly freesheets, have lost their appeals against a High Court decision to dismiss their challenge to the Government’s crackdown on council papers.

Both councils are placing public notices in independent local newspapers as result of the cessation of their fortnightly publications.

The councils had sought to appeal a High Court decision to dismiss their challenge to the Government’s crackdown on council papers in which the judge stated that restricting council papers promotes freedom of expression.

In the judgment, Justice Andrews said there was “considerable force” in the argument that the enforcement of the restriction on local authority publications “promotes freedom of expression by protecting and encouraging the development of the local independent press.”

The News Media Association has led a sustained campaign to highlight the damage taxpayer-funded propaganda papers do to independent local press, briefing Ministers and officials on the issue, publicising the issue and giving evidence to various Parliamentary committees.

Welcoming the judgment in June, Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker, NMA vice chairman, said local Government should be working to support local news publishers, rather than undermining them.”