Tag Archives: defamation bill

Julian Huppert writes… an end to the chilling effects of libel action on free speech

libel-reform-campaign-logoAs we start a New Year, we always tend to look back on the past, as well as think to the future – and we do have a bad tendency to focus on the problems, not the successes.

But for a change, let’s celebrate another achievement – another manifesto commitment delivered, as the Defamation Act 2013 came into effect on New Year’s Day. This will hopefully mark an end to libel tourism, an end to the abuse of libel law by companies, and an end to the chilling effect threats of libel …

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Did it. As promised.

Libel Reform campaign logoI’ve been working on the Defamation Bill for years and now we are near the end phase.

Last week, I wrote here that we’d managed to secure a concession from the Government on something we’d argued for for a while – requiring companies to prove serious financial harm to take any libel action.

There were skeptics – lots of people saying they’d believe it when they saw it.

Well, today the Lords discussed the Government amendment we won, and supported it. The Bill can now proceed to Royal Assent.

We can …

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Lord McNally writes… Liberal Democrats can be proud of the Defamation Bill

Yesterday I published a new government amendment to the Defamation Bill which will strengthen the “serious harm” test already in the bill to make it more difficult for corporations to sue for libel. This new amendment makes it clear that a body trading for profit will only satisfy the serious harm test if it is able to show that the statement complained of has caused or is likely to case the body serious financial loss. This is almost identical to the original clause Anthony Lester proposed in his private members bill. This will make it clear that bodies trading for …

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Opinion: One last chance to achieve far-reaching libel reform

The Defamation Bill is nearly law. Several key reforms needed to protect free debate are already included in the Bill, thanks to the tireless work of the Libel Reform Campaign (declaration: I have acted as an adviser to the campaign), the heroic defence of free speech by individuals in the face of financial ruin, and Parliamentarians from both Houses, with Lib Dems leading the charge.

At the very last, however, a Tory attempt to scupper one of the most important provisions that was included in the bill needs to be defeated if the ensuing Act is to achieve …

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Next week in the Lords… 22-25 April (and there shall be ping pong enough for all)

House of Lords chamberYes, I know, I’ve been rubbish at keeping up with this in recent weeks, but it’s a busy week ahead in the Lords, as they return from their early Spring recess for a hectic week of tying up loose ends before the end of the Parliamentary session when they… go off for the recess before the Queen’s Speech…

So, without further ado…

Monday sees the introduction of the Bishop of Truro, just in time for consideration of Commons amendments on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and

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Julian Huppert writes…Update on the Defamation Bill

libel-reform-campaign-logoThe Defamation Bill has had a troubled passage through Parliament. Hijacked by Labour over Leveson, attacked by Tory backbenchers concerned about companies and undermined by vested interests, I was glad to see it finally reach one of its last Parliamentary stages in the Commons today.

I was on the Joint Committee that considered this bill when it was a draft – those discussions are already beginning to feel like a distant memory! But we will deliver a huge reform of the UK libel laws.

All the while, Lib Dems have been vociferous in …

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Lib Dems’ libel reform retreat points to a wider Coalition problem

Frankly, it’s the last thing Nick Clegg needed. After losing several high profile Lib Dem supporters over the party’s botched handling of the Government’s ‘secret courts’ legislation, another core liberal reform, one promised in the 2010 manifesto, is threatened by a Coalition compromise: libel reform.

Robert Sharp of free speech campaign group English PEN wrote here at the weekend about the threat posed to the defamation bill by Conservative MP (and former libel lawyer) Sir Edward Garnier’s amendment to the Defamation Bill, striking out the clause which makes it harder for companies to sue for libel. The Independent reports:

… ministers announced that they would seek to overturn a cross-party consensus in the House of Lords that companies should have to show financial damage before they can sue a journalist, academic or blogger. They are also seeking to block proposals that would prevent private companies which provide public services paid for by the taxpayer from suing.

The changes will mean that, while a prison run directly by the Government can be criticised without fear of defamation, a prison run by a private contractor such as G4S cannot.

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The Independent View: A chance for Liberal Democrat activists to speak up for free speech

There is a new threat to the Defamation Bill.

No sooner had the proposed law been liberated, after being taken hostage by Leveson negotiations, than Conservative MPs have begun messing with crucial free speech provisions.

Former libel lawyer Sir Edward Garnier MP has tabled an amendment seeking to remove a crucial clause from the Defamation Bill. The clause places some limits on corporations’ use of the libel laws. It does not bar them from suing entirely – just asks that they show financial loss before they do so. It’s an objective and measurable …

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LibLink..Lord Lester QC: Five days to save free speech

Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Lester writes in today’s Sun about amendments which could derail the long awaited reform of England’s libel laws. He says that Labour’s Lord Puttnam is leading attempts to introduce a “draconian version” of the Leveson proposals. He warns that if these amendments are passed, the whole attempt at libel reform could fall when the Bill reaches the Commons.

First, he set out  what the Bill is trying to do:

The Bill creates a Serious Harm Test to prevent frivolous claims. It makes user-friendly the defences of honest opinion, truth and qualified privilege, and introduces an important public interest

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Next week in the Lords: 8-11 October

Yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the House of Lords is back! And whilst I get to spend less time with my wife, legislation awaits. Will the death of Lords Reform change anything on the red benches? Just what are they going to discuss without it?

There are three Bills carried forward from before the summer recess;

As a gentle loosener after a summer of grouse shooting, light naps and memoir writing, Monday sees Day 6 of the Committee Stage of the Financial Services Bill, perhaps now …

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Libel reform is an admirable prize for Liberal Democrats

In my experience, Second Reading debates are often lengthy affairs. Everyone wants to say their piece; few have something new to contribute.

The second reading of the Defamation Bill last week was no exception. We even heard the odd diatribe against threatening behaviour and internet trolls; some of which belied a complete misunderstanding of what we were actually debating.

But, for once, there was some clear consensus. In the words of John Kampfner, the chief executive of Index on Censorship:

When we launched the Libel Reform Campaign in 2009, only the Liberal Democrats backed change. Now the cause has cross party support.

Campaigned …

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Evan Harris writes… The Draft Libel Bill – A good start, but much still to play for

Yesterday the Government published its draft Defamation Bill. This consisted not only of draft clauses but also a formal consultation on some key issues not included (yet).

The Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of the campaign to reform our libel laws as Nick Clegg points out in his Guardian piece yesterday. I convened the parliamentary wing of the Libel Reform Campaign in 2008/9, working with Sense About Science, Index on Censorship and English PEN. We achieved our aims of getting manifesto commitments from all three main parties before the 2010 Election. This campaign …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPaul In Wokingham 26th Oct - 9:14am
    @Paul Barker - Overwhelming evidence requires us to reverse the order of your statements. It is much more logical to say that the "Anti-Clegg/We are...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 26th Oct - 8:51am
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/04/young-politicised-jobless-jarrow-march Not all protesters are media luvvies.
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 26th Oct - 8:38am
    the tory press is already conducting its sacking of left-leaning collective-action bastions in advance of the GE next year: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11187602/The-wealth-tax-a-tax-on-the-rich-that-cripples-the-poor.html
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 26th Oct - 8:37am
    Matthew Huntbach 25th Oct '14 - 5:25pm Helen and others – could you try reading what Giles Fraser is saying in today’s Guardian Matthew, I...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 26th Oct - 8:33am
    @paul barker "One obvious possible reason is that the Anti-Clegg/We are all doomed campaign has been so succsessfull that no-one believes we can win anything...
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 26th Oct - 8:11am
    fully behind charlie on this one.