Tag Archives: libel reform

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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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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Lord Anthony Lester writes: Free speech is the lifeblood of democracy

When I began drafting my private member’s bill to reform the law of libel in early 2010, with the help of the Libel Reform Campaign, the Lib Dems were the only party committed to reform, having grasped the chilling effect on free speech caused by the vagueness and uncertainty of the law, and the extortionate legal costs which accompany it.

By the time of the election that year, successful campaigning meant that all three main parties included libel reform in their manifesto commitments.

A pledge to reform libel law to better protect freedom of expression was included in the coalition agreement, and …

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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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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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Julian Huppert MP writes: What does the Queen’s Speech mean for civil liberties?

So – how does the Queen’s Speech rate for those of us who care about civil liberties? Well, there’s some excellent news, and some areas where we need to keep working to get the right result.

First, we have fantastic news about libel reform. I am delighted that the Defamation Bill will finally come into being. As Liberal Democrats we have long made the case that our libel laws are out-dated and in desperate need of improvement.  Our current system unfairly favours the rich because the cost of lawsuits means ordinary people find it very difficult to defend themselves against false …

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    Roland. And it's free.
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    The simple fact is that those Conservatives are a corrupt, uncaring and fundamentally evil bunch who will say and do anything by pandering to the...