Law Reform

Libel News

Good news from Index on Censorship:

Following Index on Censorship and English PEN’s announcement of an independent inquiry in to libel laws in the UK this week, the Ministry of Justice today announced that it will publish a consulation paper on defamation and the Internet in the UK.

Speaking at an adjournment debate called by Denis MacShane MP (Lab), with support from Michael Gove MP (Con) and Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem), Justice Minister Bridget Prentice agreed to consider whether reform of civil defamation law is necessary, and promised a consultation paper on defamation and the Internet in the New Year. She also agreed to seek views on criminal defamation, after the issue was raised by Evan Harris MP (Lib Dem).

Index on Censorship editor Jo Glanville commented: ‘This is very welcome news – and long overdue. Our libel laws have become an international embarrassment and remain one of the single most damaging restraints on free speech and investigative journalism in the UK.’

Jonathan Heawood of English PEN added: ‘I’m glad that the Government has recognised the need for action on our dysfunctional libel laws. At present, the public’s right to know is being eroded by the power of the wealthy to threaten chilling libel suits.’

Read more about Index on Censorship and English PEN’s libel inquiry here:

Read about today’s debate on Index on Censorship’s Free Speech blog here