Tuesday 10 November 2009

The case for libel reform

John Kampfner writes for Index on Censorship about today's publication of the Index on Censorship and English Pen inquiry into our libel laws: 'Free speech is not for sale'.

All civilised societies need libel laws. People are entitled to redress when maliciously and falsely impugned. But Britain’s laws are not equipped for 21st-century mass and immediate communication. Our laws pose a direct and deadly threat to free expression and the right to know.

The report's proposals are reported to include a £10,000 limit on libel damages, and that English courts should not hear cases unless 10% of a publication's circulation is in England to stop "libel tourism" taking advantage of Britain's relatively draconian laws.

(We will add a link to the report or a fuller summary when it is made available).

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that leading US newspaper publishers have written to the Commons Media Select Committee to say they are considering withdrawing print editions from sale in the UK due to the libel risk.

The Select Committee will report next month with its own recommendations.

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