Tag Archives: lord lester

Lib Dem Peers split on Lord Lester vote

This week, the House of Lords debated a recommendation from the Committee for Privileges and Conduct which recommended that Lord Lester of Herne Hill should be suspended from the House until 2022. The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards made this ruling about a complaint of sexual harassment against Lord Lester:

Applying the test of the balance of probabilities I find the complaint upheld, on the basis of the strong and cogent evidence of the complainant and her witnesses. I have carefully considered the challenges to this evidence, but do not find that those challenges undermine the strength of the evidence to any significant degree.

Lord Lester also admitted a further breach of the Lords’ Code as outlined in the Commissioner’s report which is annexed to the Committee report.

At a late stage in the investigation I was informed that Lord Lester had told another Member of the House, who knows the complainant, that it was she who had made the complaint against him. The Member confirmed that this had happened (Appendix AB) .

This was a breach of the confidentiality requirement in the Guide to the Code (paragraph 130), and I therefore asked Lord Lester to respond to the evidence of a breach of confidentiality. He replied:<
“As regards the allegation that I named the complainant to this is correct. I spoke briefly and privately to the Member. I apologise. I am not responsible for what occurred thereafter.”

Since the report has been published, the complainant, campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera has waived her right to anonymity. That was her decision to do so. It was not acceptable for Lord Lester to identify her to anyone during the investigation.

On Thursday, the Lords voted to send the recommendation back to the Committee for further consideration. 18 Lib Dem peers voted in that debate, 13 in favour of sending the recommendation back, 5 in favour of accepting it.

There are things that really worry me, reading the Lords debate. Regrettably, some of our peers chose to try to discredit the woman making the complaint. This led Ms Sanghera to say in today’s Sunday Times (£) that she felt a bit like Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who so bravely faced a Senate Committee to describe her experience of being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments

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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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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Libel reform bill set for spring publication

The Press Gazette reports:

A newly published Ministry of Justice Structural Reform Plan shows that developing options for reform is expected to take from June this year until March next year.

The plan gives as a milestone the publication next March of a “draft Defamation Bill for the reform of libel laws published for pre-legislative scrutiny”.

But it gives no indication of a timetable for the introduction or passage of the actual legislation…

The Government announced on 9 July, towards the end of the second reading debate on the Defamation Bill introduced into the House of Lords by Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC,

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More details of Lord Lester’s libel reform bill released

Yesterday I covered the news that Liberal Democrat Lord Lester is going to table a bill to reform libel law. He’s now released details of what approach the bill will take:

  • Introduce a statutory defence of responsible publication on a matter of public interest;
  • Clarify the defences of justification and fair comment, renamed as ‘truth’ and ‘honest opinion’;
  • Respond to the problems of the internet age, including multiple publications and the responsibility of Internet Service Providers and hosters;
  • Protect those reporting on proceedings in Parliament and other issues of public concern;
  • Require claimants to show substantial harm, and corporate bodies to show financial loss;
  • Encourage the speedy settlement of disputes without

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Lib Dem peer to table libel reform bill

The Times Higher Education Supplement reports the promising news:

A Liberal Democrat peer is to launch a libel reform bill in the House of Lords that would offer greater protection for scientific debate against defamation claims.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill said he was introducing the private member’s bill in order to encourage the government to act quickly on libel reform. He said his aim was to trigger the formation of a committee to take detailed evidence on the topic. He added that he hoped the government would adopt the final version of the bill.

Both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems made

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Lester QC vs Goldsmith QC: Lib Dem peer says “He didn’t give the correct legal view”

Channel 4 News asked top lawyer and Lib Dem peer Lord Lester for his view on former Labour attorney general Lord Goldsmith’s evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the war against Iraq. You can see the eight-minute video below, together with C4’s news report:

Lord Lester QC, a leading human rights lawyer and expert in international law, believes Lord Goldsmith failed in his responsibilities on Iraq. “He didn’t give the correct legal view,” says the Lib Dem peer.

As Britain went to war in March 2003, 16 out of

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Libel law needs major reform

The clamour for a change to our pernicious libel laws grows louder every day.  In November, Index on Censorship and English PEN published Free Speech is Not For Sale, a report into the state of libel in England & Wales, and the bizarre phenomenon of libel tourism.  Impressed by this report, Jack Straw announced the creation of a working group to deliver reform.  Lib Dem peer Lord Lester announced on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme he will begin drafting a libel bill, and MPs have begun to sign EDM 423 (tabled by Dr …

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Libel law reform proposed by Lib Dem Lord Lester

The Press Gazette reports:

Human rights barrister Lord Lester has drawn up a defamation reform bill which he says has cross-party support and would be available to whoever wins next year’s general election.

According to the Sunday Times, the Lib Dem peer’s “moderate” bill would tackle the issues of libel tourism and the huge costs to publishers of cases brought under no win, no fee rules…

Lord Lester’s bill would:

  • Reform the no-win no-fee which makes the costs so high for publishers that they often settle just to minimise their risks.
  • End the rule whereby every time a web story is downloaded it counts

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[email protected]: Anthony Lester – End the legal uncertainty over assisted suicide

Over at the Indpendent, Lib Dem peer Lord (Antony) Lester argues that citizens are entitled to know if their conduct is criminal. Here’s an excerpt:

The Suicide Act 1961 changed the law so that suicide is no longer a crime, but it remains a crime to encourage or assist suicide, and the current state of the law is not as certain as criminal law should be. Criminal liability depends on the way a particular Director of Public Prosecutions decides what is in the public interest.

Like many others, I believe that we need a legal framework which would allow doctors and nurses

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Lester: Paul Dacre and Graham Dudman have got it wrong

Part of the recent Paul Dacre attack on Justice Eady (who ruled against the News of the World in the Max Mosley case) was that he was unaccountable for his actions and basically a one-man band introducing a privacy law on his own. He was supported in this attack by The Sun’s managaing editor, Graham Dudman, who said, “The issue here is that Justice Eady is unelected and unaccountable. Parliament has not made these decisions, one man has”.

But Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester has hit back today, pointing out that when the law on which Eady’s rulings are based …

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