Saturday, May 14, 2011

Libel Reform: Sign the Petition and write to your MP


The Libel Reform Campaign is urging people to sign their petition and contact their MP and ask them to support Early Day Motion (EDM) 1636.  The government published a draft defamation Bill in March.

"The Libel Reform Campaign led by English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science have welcomed the Government’s draft Defamation Bill as ‘a great starting point’ to ensure the first overhaul of our archaic libel laws, but calls upon Parliament to go further in key areas. Since its launch 18 months ago, 55,000 people have signed up to the campaign, with over half of all eligible MPs backing our Early Day Motion in the last session of Parliament. This is the first time any government has promised wholesale reform of our libel laws since 1843.
In particular, the campaign calls for:

• a stronger public interest defence
• an end to the ability of corporations to sue in libel
• more protection for web-hosts and Internet service providers from liability for the words of others".

Super-injunctions, privacy laws and libel have been in the news recently but it is not just the rich and famous who could fall foul of our unfit for purpose libel laws.  I am speaking as someone, who with two blogging comrades (Dave Osler and Alex Hilton), had some little local difficulties (for almost 4 years!) at the Royal Court of Justice.  Grappling over such issues of principle as whether comparing someone to Chocolate Cake is actionable?  and should there be an injunction in case primary school children google the names of their governors and think they are a terrorist?  

Finally, eventually, the cases were thrown out an abuse of process - "not worth the candle" of pursuing. 

However, there is a very serious side to this since these utterly pointless cases probably cost you the taxpayer £100,000's in un-claimable Court costs and check out this account on the real "cost" of the case by Dave's Partner, "Mrs" Stroppy. 
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