Unions Urged to Use Press Law to Silence Critical Newspapers; Threat of Mass Legal Action to End Critical Media Coverage
Byline: Tim Shipman Deputy Political Editor
A LABOUR candidate has urged union bosses to use new Press regulations to launch class action complaints against newspapers who criticise them.
Clive Lewis - who is a member of three unions - criticised the Daily Mail's exposure of bullying by Unite thugs.
In a chilling insight into the way Leftwingers plan to use the Royal Charter, the would-be MP said unions should get together to file complaints to combat 'scurrilous' reporting.
He told a new trade union think tank that in the past, only people specifically affected by a news story have been able to launch a grievance against a newspaper.
But under the terms of the Royal Charter - approved by the Privy Council last month to the delight of the Hacked Off pressure group - third party groups will be able to complain en masse in socalled class action cases.
The measure has been opposed by newspaper industry groups, who say it is likely to be used by activists to deter legitimate investigative journalism.
The Mail revealed how Unite thugs targeted the families and neighbours of staff at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Scotland during strike action last month.
The paper has also led the way in covering the scandal in Falkirk, where Unite was accused of seeking to rig a Labour candidate selection. Stephen Deans, the Unite boss in Scotland who was also chairman of Falkirk West Labour Party, has now lost his job at Grangemouth and the local party has been taken into special measures. However, Labour candidate Mr Lewis has sought to paint Mr Deans - whose fight with the owners of Grangemouth nearly led to the plant closing - as a wronged man.
In a speech to the Unite-sponsored Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class), he said: 'Let's take for example the case of the chap who has had his life ruined by scurrilous accusations and innuendo in the Daily Mail. Under the new Royal Charter, his trade union, as an interested third party, could say actually, "We now have an interest in this. We think this generalisation affects not just him but all the trade union movement and its members and we are going to put in an official complaint and take this through the process".'
Mr Lewis, the candidate for Norwich South, describes himself on his Twitter account as a 'proud socialist' and former BBC reporter. He is a member of three unions - Unite, the GMB and the National Union of Journalists.
Shipley MP Philip Davies, one of 15 Conservatives who voted against the Charter earlier this year, said the unions will use their financial muscle to 'bully hard-pressed newspapers'. …