More than 200,000 people have say on whether newspapers should pay legal costs

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A Government consultation ended this week into whether to implement proposals that would force newspapers to pay the legal costs of people who sued them over libel and privacy, even if the paper won.

Opponents say that would kill off newspapers” ability to investigate wrongdoing by powerful people and encourage lawyers to incite people to sue.

Papers signed up to an approved regulator would be exempt.

But most of the industry, including this newspaper, fund and belong to the Independent Press Standards Organisation which has not sought recognition so would have to pay plaintiffs” costs whatever the result of the case.

The consultation also asked whether to go ahead with Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, set up in 2011 into phone-hacking allegations.

A Government minister said on Tuesday that the scale of police and press reforms since Leveson Part 1 reported on journalism culture and ethics in 2012 meant it was right to consider if it was “appropriate, proportionate and in the public interest” to proceed with Part 2 into wrongdoing and failures by press and police.

Thousands of Daily Express readers are believed to have answered the call to fill in our coupons backing the fight against state-sanctioned regulation of the newspaper industry.

Tonight Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Karen Bradley revealed that the 10-week consultation was estimated to have received over 140,000 “individual responses”.

Meanwhile a petition organised through the 38 Degrees campaign website, backing Leveson 2, is estimated to have received over 130,000 signatures.

A final decision is not expected before the outcome of a claim by hacking victims and a news website for judicial review against the Government”s decision to consult rather than go ahead with the measures.