Law Reform,  Libel Laws

So this is how it ends, is it?

This is a cross post from Nick Cohen of Standpoint

The longest period of left-wing rule in British history is all but over. Guess how Labour MPs use their last few precious days in power. By comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable? By standing up for the one-million-strong army of young unemployed? By reforming a rotten City or performing one last service to the credulous and the idealistic who have supported them down the decades?

Don’t be so stupid. Don’t be such a clown.

The government proposed last night a cut in the fees libel lawyers can charge. A study by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University showed that the cost of libel litigation in England and Wales is 140-times the European average. The current system so clearly limits freedom of expression by removing access to justice for journals, individuals and blogs that would be destroyed by a libel action, that even Jack Straw, no friend to English liberty, wants reform.

But as Index on Censorship reports, his sensible measure came before Parliament and…

A Statutory Instrument that would have reformed costs in English libel cases was stalled at committee stage tonight after several Labour MPs voted against their party whip to bock a reduction of lawyers’ success fees from a 100 per cent mark-up to 10 per cent. Chris Mullin, Peter Kilfoyle, Tom Watson and Jim Sheridan and Conservative Julie Kirkbride acted against the move. Watson and Kilfoyle have both taken advantage of Conditional Fee Agreements in past court cases. Other Conservative MPs abstained from the vote.

When he was young, Mullin was an investigative journalist. Now he is working to maintain an oppressive system which allows post-Soviet oligarchs and Saudi petro-billionaires to come to Britain and punish their  critics.

Kilfoyle once posed as a left-winger. Now he is lining up behind the most reactionary elements in the English legal system

Watson claimed to be a supporter of British science and technology. Now he defends an indefensible law which has led to the hounding of Simon SinghPeter Wilmshurst and Henrik Thomsen – better and braver men than he will ever be – who faced personal ruin for standing up for free scientific debate.

How does Labour end? Well now you know. It ends with Labour MPs breaking the whip so they can by fight in the last ditch to defend the exorbitant fees of extortionist lawyers.