17th June 2012
Dear Libel Reform Supporter,
Join Dara Ó Briain, Professor Brian Cox and Dave Gorman in the final push for libel reform
It has been a long time since many of you backed me in my fight against the British Chiropractic Association. My nightmare and similar cases helped spark the Libel Reform Campaign. Now, thanks to your support, a Defamation Bill is making its way through Parliament. This is a staggering achievement in less than 3 years, so we can all pat ourselves and each other on the back … at least a bit.
The Bill addresses some important issues, such as reducing libel tourism and providing protection for academic publication, but I am sorry to say that the Bill falls short in some crucial areas. There is no worthwhile public interest defence and the Bill offers no restrictions on the ability of corporations to silence critics. Also, instead of bringing the law into the 21st century by protecting website operators, the current draft of the bill reduces their protection from being made liable for the words of others.
Unless these issues are addressed, libel threats and libel actions will still be used to bully newspaper journalists, scientists, bloggers, consumer groups, human rights activists and others.
On 27th June, I will be part of group who will present the petition you all have signed to No.10 Downing Street asking for a Bill that will make the laws fairer, more accessible and in the public interest. I will be joined by the three charities at the heart of the Libel Reform Campaign (Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense About Science), and three supporters who have been part of the campaign since it started (Dara Ó Briain, Professor Brian Cox and Dave Gorman).
In this final push for a truly fair and effective Defamation Bill, I need your help in two ways. I hope that you will able to support one or both of these missions.
1. Please send an email to your MP. If every MP receives dozens of emails on this issue, it will raise awareness that the current Bill is inadequate. You will find all you need to send an email to your MP on this webpage, including how to find their contact details and some words you might like to use.
2. Please join us all at the Houses of Parliament on 27th June at 10:30 immediately after the delivery of the petition to Downing Street. Dara Ó Briain, Professor Brian Cox, Dave Gorman and organisations backing libel reform will be speaking. A large show of support will impress upon MPs that many people are committed to winning the battle for a fairer defamation law. If you have not visited Parliament before, then please take this opportunity to be part of democracy in action. Better still ask your MP to come to the meeting at 10.30am and/or meet you after PMQs (which ends at 12.30pm) to discuss the issue. Full details of location and how to invite/meet your MP can be found at http://www.libelreform.org/news/528-mass-lobby-for-a-public-interest-defence.
Finally, before we deliver the petition, please encourage others to sign the libel reform statement so that we can add another 10,000 names. Please email your friends and tweet:
“Support #LibelReform by signing the petition http://bit.ly/8gJQ7w - if you’ve signed already, click http://bit.ly/LRKDCm to remind your MP”
Finally, finally, I would like to thank you for supporting libel reform over that last three years. If we can persuade the Ministry of Justice to make a couple of amendments to the current proposals, then together we will have made the biggest contribution to free speech in Britain for over a century.
Defendant in British Chiropractic Association v Singh