Libel week round up
Padraig Reidy: Libel week round-up
12 Mar 10

The Libel Reform Campaign’s Libel Week culminates with the Big Libel Gig this Sunday, featuring Dara O’Briain, Robin Ince, Ed Byrne, Shappi Khorsandi, Tim Minchin and many more. We’ll be tweeting at #libelreform, and the Little Atoms radio show will be interviewing performers backstage for a special podcast, available next week.

On Thursday night, the campaign hosted “What You Don’t Get To See” at the Free Word Centre, an event highlighting the difficulties documentary filmmakers face because of England’s libel laws.

Among the speakers was investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, who ran a campaign against quackery in the 1980’s and 90s.
Campbell began investigating alternative health during the early day’s of Aids when, as he put it stories “filled my in-tray and broke my heart.” He investigated doctors selling unscientific remedy’s for the Big three” cancer, aids, leaukemia” Campbell’s investigations resulted in four doctors being struck off for life — two of whom were treating HIV-positive patients with Ayurvedic remedies. He repeatedly faced libel actions — including one against him personally
On Wednesday evening, Mr Juctice Eady spoke on free speech and the European Convention on Human Rights at the launch of City University’s Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism. Eady, often cast as the pantomime villain of defamation, said he felt the biggest problem with English free speech cases is the massive cost, which he felt was partly down to a culture of bravado and machismo among libel lawyers. Eady also said he was sympathetic to the idea of libel tribunals, which would save time and money.

You can read Justice Eady’s speech here

Meanwhile, this week Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky this week won a case against Russian channel RTR Planeta, which had implicated him in the death of Alexander Litvinenko. The case threw up a question: was this libel tourism? Berezovksy cleary has interests in the UK, but the broadcast was in Russian; and while available in the UK, it was not intended for this market.

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.