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.
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.
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.
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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.
Explanatory notes on the bill can be found here
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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
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.
His High Witness, The Prophet V