Trial witness buy-ups to be banned

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The Independent Online
Media buy-ups of witnesses ahead of high-profile trials should be banned, the Government said yesterday.

The proposal follows what Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the Lord Chancellor, called "widespread and flagrant" breaches of the Press Complaints Commission's voluntary code of practice in the Rosemary West Gloucester murders case. But a consultation paper left open whether the ban, on payments in cash or kind, should take the form of a specific criminal offence or a contempt of court.

While chequebook journalism has a lengthy history, the Government has suggested for the first time that editors flouting new legislation should face jail terms of up to two years. Patricia Wynn Davies