SECTION 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

It may not sound like anything particularly imposing, but for the newspaper industry this particular piece of legislation would be catastrophic.

We at the South Wales Argus believe that if that above act is passed it could have disastrous consequences for newspapers across Wales and the whole of the UK.

Editor of the South Wales Argus Nicole Garnon said: “Essentially the act means that newspapers would have to pay the court costs for anyone who decides to sue them – regardless of whether or not they are successful.

“Potentially this could lead to questionable complaints, made by anyone unhappy with something they have seen in print – safe in the knowledge that even if they lose the case the newspaper will have to pay the costs.

“The impact this act would have on our ability to investigate and report on matters that someone may not wish to be published cannot be understated.”

Whether it be matters relating to a local council or police force or even day-to-day matters of local concern – anyone with something to hide would know that the possibility of legal action would put doubt in the minds of reporters and editors.

These types of stories would have to be scaled back for fear of potentially ending up in court and having to pay the costs. It would be a disaster for local democracy.

“Just to reiterate, even if we are right and even if we are vindicated in court we would still have to pay the cost. The situation would be completely untenable,” added Ms Garnon.

The background of this begins at the end of Leveson Inquiry when the Press Complaints Commission was wound up and pressure fell on the newspaper industry for tougher regulation.

Even though very few of the failings in standards, ethics and procedures uncovered in the Leveson Inquiry were aimed at local newspapers - Lord Leveson, in fact, praised the regional press for the role it plays in our society – we have all been tarred with the same brush.

Most newspapers have joined the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) an organisation that can force newspapers to issue front page apologies and has the power to levy fines of up to £1 million.

IPSO – being an independent body – refuses to be overseen by politicians, and so Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 raised its head with politicians making no distinction between a national newspaper guilty of unethical practices and the newspaper you are holding in your hand.

So what can be done?

A public consultation is now being held and the Government is seeking people’s views on press regulation.

We need your help to prevent the Government implementing a law that could put freedom of speech, local democracy and an industry employing thousands of people at risk.

It doesn’t take long and is a straight forward process.

Please clicik on the link below and speak out for us so we can continue to speak up for you.