As an MP, I am deeply concerned by the UK’s fall to 26th in the 2023 World Press Freedom Global Index, reflecting a growing trend of hostility towards journalists and a lack of transparency in government.

Press freedom is a cornerstone of any democracy, providing citizens with the information they need to make informed decisions and hold their leaders to account. When journalists can report without fear of censorship or retribution, they shine a light on corruption, injustice and human rights abuses.

In recent years we have seen growing threats to press freedom. Journalists have been subjected to harassment, intimidation and violence, and in some countries, governments have used censorship and other tactics to limit the free flow of information and silence dissenting voices.

The decline in press freedom in the UK is particularly concerning. According to Reporters Without Borders, the UK is now ranked lower than countries such as South Africa and Costa Rica.

One issue is the concentration of ownership in the hands of a few powerful individuals and corporations. This can limit the diversity of voices and perspectives in the media, and create a culture of self-censorship, as journalists may be reluctant to report on issues that might be seen as critical of their owners or advertisers.

There are also concerns about the use of legal measures to silence and intimidate journalists. Libel laws, for example, have stifled investigative journalism and limited the free flow of information. The UK has one of the most draconian Official Secrets Acts in the world, which can be used to prosecute journalists who publish classified information even if it is in the public interest.

These challenges are compounded by the growing use of surveillance and other tactics to monitor and intimidate journalists. Recent revelations about the surveillance of journalists by police forces and intelligence agencies are deeply worrying.

I am committed to upholding press freedom and promoting transparency and accountability in government. This means supporting measures to promote media diversity and pluralism, including measures to promote ownership transparency and funding for independent media outlets. It also means supporting the right of journalists to report on issues without fear of retribution, including protecting them from harassment, intimidation and violence.

We must reform outdated laws and regulations, including libel laws, and ensure that journalists have the resources and support they need to continue producing high-quality journalism. This means funding investigative journalism, supporting media literacy initiatives to help citizens discern reliable sources of information from fake news and propaganda, and promoting the importance of journalism as a public good.

The decline in press freedom in the UK is a cause for concern, but it is not irreversible. By working together to promote media diversity, reform outdated laws and regulations, and protect journalists from harassment and intimidation, we can create a more transparent, accountable and just society for all.

Owen Thompson is SNP MP for Midlothian