Are lawyers killing investigative journalism?
Once upon a time investigative journalists had only to fear the physical violence of military men or organised crime. Those dangers remain, but today it’s the men in suits, the lawyers, who are just as great a threat to journalists’ ability to uncover evil-doing. Well-funded legal action to deter and stifle investigation, it is argued, is having a chilling effect on journalists and their editors, killing stories that it’s in the public interest to publish. Under the guise of protecting privacy, some of the richest companies and individuals in the world are cowing into silence journalists who have uncovered the truth about them. In this session Clive Edwards, head of BBC Television’s current affairs programmes, reveals how the world’s best public service broadcaster finds itself beset by lawyers in the pay of the powerful, while John Kampfner, former chief executive of the international organization Index on Censorship explains how threats to sue for libel are silencing those who want to expose wrong-doing, keeping the truth hidden from the public. They will be joined by Guido Scorza, a leading Italian media lawyer, and Antonio Padellaro, editor of the Italian daily il Fatto Quotidiano.