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Labour lines up on libel
12 Apr 2010
BY PADRAIG REIDY

The Labour party launched its election manifesto this morning (12 April).

Among the 33,000 words (longer even than 1983’s “longest suicide note in history”, trivia fans) was this little sentence:

“To encourage freedom of speech and access to information,we will bring forward new legislation on libel to protect the right of defendants to speak freely”

This, undoubtedly, is A Good Thing. Moreover, it now means that all three mainstream parties have committed to reforming our libel laws in the next parliament.

The Lib Dems were first there, adopting the principle at their conference last year. And on Friday, Conservative shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve told the Libel Reform Campaign:

“the Conservative party is committed, if elected, to undertaking a fundamental review of the libel laws with a view to enacting legislation to reform them. This reform could best be done by means of a separate Libel Bill and this is the preferred approach for us.”

While we’re at it, we should mention that Amnesty has also lent its support to the campaign.

Sile Lane of Sense About Science and I will be representing the Libel Reform Coalition tonight at Westminster Skeptics in London, along with Simon Singh, Dave Gorman, Nick Cohen, Evan Harris, Joanne Cash and Jack of Kent.

Padraig Reidy

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