Privacy provision blocked: JOHN MAJOR has intervened to block a hasty commitment to new privacy laws he believes could be too Draconian and damaging to freedom of the press

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The Independent Online
A White Paper, printed in draft form for publication next week, is now unlikely to emerge until after the Easter parliamentary break. 'The Prime Minister is keen that we look at a number of areas again,' the Department of National Heritage said. At the heart of his concerns is the proposal for a 'tort', or civil wrong, of privacy that would give people the right to obtain injunctions forbidding publication or to sue the media for damages.

The document's provisions on new criminal laws outlawing bugging, electronic eavesdropping and the use of telephoto lenses will survive, despite reservations about the potentially drastic effects.

A Downing Street spokesman said: 'It's felt by a number of ministers that more discussion needs to be done on the tort of privacy. It raises a very complex set of issues in terms of making sure there is equity for everyone in access to the law.'

There would be no legal aid for the suggested new right. Although a small claims court procedure had been suggested, only the very well- off would be able to afford injunctions, risking claims that the Government would be enabling MPs, the Royal Family and other public figures to get special treatment.