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We did it! Queen announces a defamation bill
09 May 2012
BY EMILY BUTSELAAR
Index is delighted to announce that thanks to our Libel Reform Campaign, the Queen has announced a defamation bill in the next parliament


This will be the first wholesale attempt at reform since 1843 and an amazing achievement for the campaign and its 60,000 supporters. The bill will open the way to ending libel tourism and protecting free expression for journalists, writers, bloggers and scientists around the world. However, there is still work to be done and we will carry on fighting to make sure that the detail in the final Bill will truly deliver reform.

How you can help

We think that the Defamation Bill will be tabled sooner rather than later so it’s really important that we keep the pressure on. Please sign our petition and let  the government know there is real demand for reform.

What happens next?

The government published its draft Defamation Bill in March 2011, followed by its response to the Scrutiny Committee report on the draft Bill in February 2012. Both fell short of what is needed.

Over the coming months, the Libel Reform Campaign which represent the efforts of English PEN, Sense about Science and Index will continue to fight for:

  • a public interest defence so people can defend themselves unless the claimant can show they have been malicious or reckless.
  • a strong test of harm that strikes out claims unless the claimant can demonstrate serious and substantial harm and they have a real prospect of vindication.
  • a restriction on corporations’ ability to use the libel laws to silence criticism.
  • provisions for online hosts and intermediaries, who are not authors nor traditional publishers.

Follow the libel reform campaign on Facebook and Twitter

Members and supporters of the Libel Reform Campaign react

UPDATE: The text of the Defamation Bill 2012-13 has been published on the official Parliament website.

Defamation Bill

Explanatory notes on the bill can be found here

6 responses to “We did it! Queen announces a defamation bill”

  1. […] represent free expression and civil society organisations from across the globe. We welcome the UK government’s attempt to revise English libel law, but remain concerned that the legislation fails to deliver the reform that you promised in your […]

  2. […] Index on Censorship says booya. Index is delighted to announce that thanks to our Libel Reform Campaign, the Queen has announced a defamation bill in the next parliament […]

  3. […] recommendations. But less attention has gone to one vital line in the Queen’s Speech promising a Bill to reform England’s outdated, and inhibiting, libel laws.Libel law has inhibited freedom of expression here […]

  4. […] Libel Reform Campaign has said it is “delighted” with the government’s plans to introduce a Defamation Bill, outlined in the Queen’s […]

  5. Annie Machon says:

    Well done indeed for this UK success!

    I just want to alert your membership to the fact the battle may be won, but the war goes on. As with dodgy tax deals, so with libel tourism – it will just move off-shore, this time to the British dependency (and tax haven) of Guernsey in the Channel Islands: http://bit.ly/y8O4us

    Regards

    Annie Machon

  6. Dear I-O-C,
    God bless the wise, the noble and the truly beautiful.

    This Defamation Bill is long overdue. I spend two weeks having to run from the police as a result of unsolicited rumours about me, and more importantly, things I had written online that were not even connected to any particular person. Finally, I contacted the police myself, and, fearing prosecution, issued a grovelling apology. Let’s hope this Defamation Bill is the start of other protections for writers, whose only desire is to express themselves.

    Kindest regards
    His High Witness, The Prophet V