The Government published its draft defamation bill on Tuesday 15th March. You can read the draft defamation bill and see our initial response here.
There is still work to be done to ensure final legislation contains all the elements needed for effective reform of libel law and to make sure libel reform stays at the top of the political agenda so that the final bill gets Parliamentary time.
Please write to your MP urging them to show their support for reforms that would protect discussion of matters of public interest and expressions of opinion by signing EDM 1636.
And here is some text you could use:
[Please put your address here - MPs often do not respond otherwise]
Dear [your MP]
I am writing as one of your constituents who is deeply concerned about the effect our libel laws have on medicine, science, journalism and literature and who supports the Libel Reform Campaign.
Firstly, I would urge you to sign cross-party EDM 1636 Libel Reform welcoming the publication of the Government’s recent draft defamation bill and calling for improvements to fully protect citizens’ rights and the public interest.
I believe, along with the Libel Reform Campaign, that any individual whose reputation is damaged by a false and defamatory statement should have recourse to the law. But beyond that we need to protect discussion of matters of public interest and expressions of opinion.
This draft bill recognises that England’s libel laws are unfair, outdated, complex and costly, and that as a result they chill free speech. It must ensure that final legislation matches our objectives.
Will you please sign EDM 1636 Libel Reform or if you can not sign EDMs indicate support for its objectives?
PS This is the text of EDM 1636
That this House welcomes the publication of the draft Defamation Bill as an essential step towards the necessary and urgent reform of the UK's outdated and unbalanced libel laws; notes that libel reform is a manifesto commitment from all three major parties, and was included in the Coalition programme; recognises that English libel law must allow individual citizens to be able to sue for libel when they have been the victim of false, irresponsible and damaging publications; further welcomes the inclusion of a new public interest defence in the draft bill which should protect investigative journalism; believes this public interest defence should be strengthened to protect the citizen critic; further welcomes proposals in the bill to raise the threshold of harm before action can be taken, to create statutory defences of truth and honest opinion, to introduce a single publication rule for the internet, and to reduce libel tourism; further believes that effective libel reform can only be delivered, and the chilling or censorious impact of bullying behaviour reduced, if companies and corporations are restricted to the use of malicious falsehood actions and if internet service providers and non-editorial web-hosts are only liable consequent to a specific order of a court, and welcomes the consultation on both these issues; applauds the efforts of the Libel Reform Campaign and hon. Members from all sides of the House in support of free expression; and looks forward to the draft bill being strengthened as it goes through the scrutiny process.