PAST EVENT: The Big Libel Gig

Big names in UK comedy, science and human rights come together on stage to tell us that England’s libel laws have become a dangerous joke

The Big Libel Gig on Sunday 14 March 2010 at the London’s Palace Theatre will raise funds to support the Coalition for Libel Reform. An eclectic line-up, including Dara Ó Briain, Tim Minchin, Marcus Brigstocke, Robin Ince, Ed Byrne, Shappi Khorsandi, Professor Brian Cox, Simon Singh, Professor Richard Wiseman, Dr Peter Wilmshurst and Dr Ben Goldacre, is supporting the campaign for a public interest defence to protect writers, bloggers, academics, human rights activists and performers.

The Big Libel Gig is the brainchild of comedian Robin Ince, and Simon Singh, the science author and broadcaster, who will be talking frankly about the impact of libel fears on scientific debate.

Simon Singh, who is currently being sued by the British Chiropractic Association, said: “Peter Wilmshurst, Ben Goldacre and I will talk about being sued for libel. Peter is being sued for raising concerns about a heart device. He faces bankruptcy by coming up against our draconian libel laws. We are all put at risk if doctors and scientists are scared to speak out because of English libel laws.”

Stars of the show will tell the audience that England’s unjust libel laws are preventing free speech and open criticism of big corporations and powerful institutions. They will call for others to support the campaign for a public interest defence and join them in signing the petition for libel reform at www.libelreform.org.

The Big Libel Gig will be the culmination of Libel Reform Week, which will raise awareness of English libel laws and urge political parties to commit to major reforms before the election, in the interests of fairness, the public interest and free speech. The campaign has gone from strength to strength with 197 MPs signing Parliamentary Early Day Motion 423, Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, leading Tories and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg MP all praising the campaign after over 10,000 letters were sent to MPs.

Funds raised from The Big Libel Gig will be donated to the Coalition for Libel Reform, established by the charities Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense About Science.

Tickets go on sale on 17 February and can be bought by clicking here, or by calling the Palace Theatre booking office on 0844 412 4656.

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