Libel reform: more thoughts


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More reaction to the government's thoughts on reforming the law of libel - this time from the Libel Reform Campaign, a coalition of English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science.

They are rather less enthused than Lord Lester - and believe that the government's initial response to the Draft Defamation Bill falls short of what is needed.

In particular, they highlight the lack of a "new effective statutory public interest defence". Instead, they say, government is only proposing minor changes to an already complex, unwieldy and expensive defence, called "Reynolds Privilege".

They are disappointed that there are no restrictions on the ability of corporations and associations to use libel laws suppress criticism and manage their brand.

And they want a stronger system to "strike out" trivial or inappropriate claims at an early stage.

They insist the government could do much more to prevent encroachments on freedom of speech. Former Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Harris, who is now policy advisor to the Libel Reform Campaign, said: "We need reform that not only provides clear and effective defences to frivolous and chilling libel actions but also sufficiently high hurdles before people are dragged into expensive court actions so that vexatious or trivial libel suits are deterred."

Mark D'Arcy Article written by Mark D'Arcy Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    One test only - Is it true based on reasonable doubt not balance of probabilities and in statement and not question form

    And huge penalties for transgressors in relation to their resources. Not penalties that adversely affect only the less well off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    HEY D'ARCY ASK YOUR EMPLOYERS WHERE THIS STORY BBC Andrew Lansley chased through hospital corridor – video Well done Guardian shame & disgrace on you bbc people are really getting fed up & angry because it seem you are state controlled

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    D'ARCY ask your employers why not running this story NHS reforms bill live blog - Lords debate via @guardian Well done Guardian shame & disgrace on you bbc people are really getting fed up & angry because it seem you are state controlled

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Why does it have to be so complex? Surely the main points are:-

    1. It has actually been published as alleged.
    2. It is not true.
    3. Any reasonable person would think less of the individual if they accepted the libel as true.

    Where does public interest or owt else come into it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Did I just read that they just went one down aka Lord St John whoever! Does that mean we'll get 2 to replace him.....just as they do in industry via natural wastage the rest of the workforce takes up the slack! No but of course this is the establisments industry..different rules!!!!


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