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UK criticises Saudi purchase of newspaper stakes in court

23/07/19

FT.com, 23/07/2019

Representing Lebedev Holdings and Independent Digital News and Media, the publisher of the Independent, Sarah Ford QC argued that the press reports did count as bringing the facts into the public domain. Mr Wright said he was minded to intervene in the deal on public interest grounds in a letter dated June 12, based on fears that the deal could damage UK press freedom by affecting the accurate presentation of news and the free expression of opinion. Ms Ford said the government and the CMA had been aware of the details long before that, however, from the date of the Financial Times article, and had exchanged emails with a CMA case controller about it on February 11. She said UK competition rules stipulated that the clock should start not when facts are formally notified to the decision maker but when they come into the public domain. Mr Scannell argued that because The Evening Standard and Mr Lebedev declined to comment on the Financial Times story, this meant the facts were uncorroborated. But Ms Ford said: It's self-evident that this sort of information that comes into the public domain is not going to be formal or complete or exhaustive. The hearing continues.

https://www.ft.com/content/4545d17a-ad63-11e9-8030-530adfa879c2