Dear Libel Reform Supporter,
Last week, we gave evidence to the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee examining the draft defamation bill. We sat alongside Philip Campbell (editor of Nature) and Fiona Godlee (editor of the British Medical Journal) and explained how English libel law currently hinders free speech in science and medicine and we outlined how the law could be reformed.
You can watch our evidence online here:
www.badscience.net/2011/06/nerds-at-the-parliamentary-committee-on-the-draft-defamation-bill/ (our session starts at 17.40)
Other witnesses who have given evidence in recent weeks include the editor of the Guardian, Mumsnet, Global Witness, Which?, BBC, Internet Service Providers Association, English PEN, Index on Censorship, Sense About Science… and Carter-Ruck. In fact, we are currently engaged in a battle against vested interests who are arguing in favour of the status quo. Seeing some of the evidence presented to Parliament, we wonder where these witnesses have been for the last five years.
Thank you to all of you who have written to the Committee supporting our aims. They will be spending the summer analysing these and writing a report. In the coming months our campaign will have to keep libel reform on a crowded parliamentary agenda by meeting and briefing as many politicians as possible. We will have to hold Ministers to account if the final bill, due in October, does not amend the law in ways that will protect everyone who wants to speak out, from the BBC to bloggers. We need to make sure politicians understand that this is a once in a century opportunity to strike a fair balance between writers and genuine claimants.
Your support has brought us to this historic point. Your voices, help, donations, the Big Libel Gig and the Geek Calendar have all played their part. We are conscious that we must not lose that momentum. Next week we will be asking you to write to MPs urging them to support a libel reform bill that addresses the key problems, but at the moment the campaign needs your financial support to continue our work over the coming months.
Thanks to your support over the last two years libel reform is on the political agenda. Now it is time to persuade the Ministry of Justice to deliver genuine reform.
Simon Singh & Ben Goldacre
Libel Reform Campaign
(Sense About Science, Index on Censorship, English PEN)