Push for libel law reform
A number of writers, journalists, academics and other high profile supporters have come together to back a campaign for a reform in English libel law.
Author and journalist Simon Singh is currently being sued along with two medical researchers for raising concerns over three medical treatments that they believed the public should be aware of. Concern is that such cases puts a strangle hold on other writers and journalists in going public with information in the interests of public health.
Mr Singh who writes for the Guardian said: “Our laws give rise to libel tourism, whereby the rich and the powerful … come to London to sue writers because English libel laws are so hostile to responsible journalism.”
Writers’ campaign organisation English PEN show particular concern for what has been coined libel tourism. They state that “individuals and companies from any country in the world can bring a libel case to the UK even where there are only tenuous links to the UK.” If something that is deemed libellous is accessible to view from the UK when it has been published on a foreign website then the case can be heard in a UK court no matter how little it has been accessed in the UK. This has led to a number of US publications blocking British users from accessing their sites to avoid being sued.
The Libel Reform campaign has published a report online with recommendations on how the laws can be improved.
Supporters of the campaign include Rt Hon Dr Denis MacShane MP, Monica Ali, Sir Andrew Motion, Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger and Editor of Mail on Sunday Peter Wright among others. For more information on the campaign you can go to the English PEN website by clicking here.
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