Tag Archives: SLAPPs

25 January 2023 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Zahawi: Raab must bring in law to stop baseless legal threats
  • Sunak holding “Hideaway Day” at Chequers with scandal-hit Cabinet
  • New sewage target passed in Parliament which allows 15 more years of harmful waste in rivers
  • Conservative MPs vote to cover up the truth about golden visas

Zahawi: Raab must bring in law to stop baseless legal threats

The Liberal Democrats have written to Dominic Raab, calling on him to “urgently” bring in a new law to stop journalists and campaigners being silenced through legal threats.

It comes following numerous reports that Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi used the threat of legal action against campaigners and journalists who raised questions about his tax affairs.

The government has previously promised new legislation to tackle the use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). Last year in response to a consultation on the issue, Dominic Raab warned these sorts of legal threats can have a “chilling effect” and “stifle legitimate reporting and debate,” with “media and others intimidated into abandoning critical stories in the face of crippling legal costs.”

Raab also previously said that “it is wrong that unscrupulous individuals and corporations are able to exploit our laws and our courts in this jurisdiction with claims designed to muzzle respected journalists, academics and campaigners.”

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to bring in new anti-SLAPP laws as quickly as possible, and to clarify if they would prevent Cabinet Ministers such as Nadhim Zahawi from behaving in the way which has been alleged.

The party is also calling for the current investigation by the ethics adviser to look into the use of legal threats by Nadhim Zahawi.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper said:

Dominic Raab has rightly warned about the chilling effect that the threat of legal action can have on media scrutiny and exposing corruption. It’s now time to put his money where his mouth is by finally bringing forward tough new laws to tackle these baseless legal threats.

It is particularly worrying that Nadhim Zahawi reportedly used the threat of legal action against those raising questions about his tax affairs. We need to know whether the new rules the government is proposing in this area will tackle such behaviour by Cabinet Ministers in future.

The current inquiry into Zahawi by the ethics adviser must also look into this issue, and whether legal threats were used in an attempt to cover up the truth. It can’t be one rule for Conservative ministers and another for everyone else.

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