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Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 Mm11

Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 Regist10

Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011

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Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 Empty Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011

Post by Tony Bennett on 17.11.11 23:17

Campaigners call on the Minster to back urgent action on libel law reform
Wednesday 9th November 2011

Hundreds of campaigners gathered in a crowded committee room in the House of Commons to tell parliamentarians that reform of the libel laws to protect public interest discussions can’t come soon enough.

Citizens Advice, Nature, Mumsnet, Liberty, Which?, The Publishers Association, Global Witness, Facebook, AOL and libel defendants Dr Simon Singh and Dr Peter Wilmshurst spoke with the Libel Reform Campaign to tell MPs that the laws allow the rich and powerful to bully critics into shutting down public debate. Richard Dunstan of Citizens Advice described threats they received trying to publish a report on “a secretive, exploitative and quite possibly illegal practice called `civil recovery’” and said “we need a clear and effective public interest defence.” Hosts of online discussions and social media sites told MPs the laws need to be modernised to accommodate the internet to prevent them becoming, as Rowan Davis of Mumsnet described, “tactical targets for those who wish to clamp down on criticism or investigation of their activities.” Campaigners were unanimous that libel reform needs urgent action. Dr Simon Singh said “people are still being threatened.”

Justice Minister Lord McNally announced that his department will publish a new Defamation Bill in January 2012. The Government brought forward a draft Defamation Bill last March which went through two public consultations and in October the Joint Committee set up to scrutinise the draft Bill published its recommendations. Lord McNally said the new Bill will respond to proposals from the public and the scrutiny committee and told campaigners to “keep campaigning until Spring to get it into the Queen’s Speech.”

Dr Julian Huppert MP, who hosted the event, said to do this we all need to write to our MPs to make sure they know how important this is. He addressed the dozens of parliamentarians at the meeting too, saying: “Too often we see parties trying to find nuanced differences: in this case, we need agreement. We can make sure this happens, and make sure it is passed. I will keep on working on this and hope you will all do too.”

The meeting was chaired by Dr Evan Harris, former Lib Dem MP, who pointed out the audience included Hardeep Singh, Dalia Nield, Professor David Colquhoun and many others who have been affected by the laws. He reminded us how far the campaign has come and urged everyone to push to get libel reform into the Queen’s Speech.

His comments were echoed by MPs and Peers:

Lord McNally, Minister of State for Justice said “You have fought a wonderful campaign. I can see some very influential parliamentarians from across the parties here... Now comes the difficult bit. The campaign isn’t over.”

Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter MP agreed that libel reform “needs action now. The campaign needs to press and press and press.”

Sir Peter Bottomley MP told the meeting libel reform must not be wrapped up with privacy and gagging legislation. He said “I would like to commend this campaign – not just those that are here, but those that are not.”

Tom Brake MP said: “I am pleased to hear that there will be a government response in the New Year. [The Government’s draft proposals] still need some fine tuning.”

Richard Dunstan, Social Policy Officer, Citizens Advice told MPs they spent an entire year’s research and campaign contingency budget to libel-proof a report on firms employed by High Street stores that it still can’t publish in full. “Current libel law makes it very easy to issue a libel action, and very expensive to defend one, even if it is without foundation. It is wrong that those engaging in scurrilous practices can, simply by throwing the L-word around, shut down criticism by those working in the public interest. We need a clear and effective public interest defence.”

On the same day that it found itself in the High Court in a libel action that has prevented it from discussing the behaviour of a journal editor for 2 years, Tim Appenzeller, Chief Magazine Editor of the scientific journal Nature told MPs they constantly have to self censor. “Roughly five times a year we come across an important story we want to publish but when we weigh it against the risk of a libel action we don’t. We are asking for a broader public interest defence and a higher threshold for substantial harm.”

David Marshall, In-house lawyer, Which? magazine: “It is clear that the current position makes exploiting uncertainty and inequality of arms worth it for reputation management.”

Victoria Lustigman, Head of Communications, The Publishers Association: “Publishers are denied the right to be truly independent and speak out on matters in the public interest. Publishers are less likely to support projects in the public interest, and will not be prepared to defend libel threats.”

Charmian Gooch, Global Witness: “We publish detailed reports on a regular basis, and get regular threats. The rights of organisations to report on matters of serious public interest need to be protected. This is not a tabloid issue.”

Sophie Farthing, Policy Officer, Liberty: “Voices being silenced and organisations and individuals are not able to hold big businesses to account. As human rights campaigners it is great to hear that reform is on its way, and we would like to echo calls for a Defamation Bill in the Queen’s Speech.”

Individuals who have battled libel actions to defend their words told MPs of the costs of the laws. Dr Peter Wilmshurst who was sued by medical device company NMT Medical: “Patients have suffered because the draconian defamation laws were used to silence doctors with legitimate concerns about medical safety. ... It is hypocritical for parliamentarians to expect ordinary citizens to speak out on matters of public interest and safety, when they do not allow ordinary citizens the same protection that MPs reserve for themselves to protect them from misuse of the defamation law.”

Simon Singh, science writer and defendant in BCA v Singh spoke about how far we have come since the beginning of the campaign. “This has not gone away. People are still being threatened. In the last seven days we have heard about new cases: Nature, a blogger who wrote about a clinic charging patients for untested treatments, Citizens Advice...It’s scientists, consumers, mothers and patients who are being affected.”
Hosts of online discussions and social media sites told MPs the laws need to be modernised to accommodate the internet.

Rowan Davis, Mumsnet: “While the draft Defamation Bill was a very good start, it didn’t go far enough to protect freedom of expression, particularly in the online environment. Websites and hosts of user-generated comment risk becoming tactical targets for those who wish to clamp down on criticism or investigation of their activities.”

Richard Allan, Director of Policy, Europe, Facebook: “If the law is correct, online space is open for people to talk freely. If the law is wrong, spaces for open public discussion like ours get smaller.”

Lisa Fitzgerald, AOL (UK): “Current law requires clarity around who is and who is not a publisher in an online context. The current law discourages involvement and inhibits freedom of speech.”

Tracey Brown, Managing Director, Sense About Science: “Libel law is complicated, but the problem is quite simple. If we want to have a robust discussion about these matters of public interest, we must have a public interest defence.”

Jo Glanville, Index on Censorship: “All of you here are testament to the success and breadth of the campaign. We are close to the finish – we still have a big push to make it there. We need to drag libel law into the 21st century and make sure that it is fit for purpose.”

Jonathan Heawood, Director, English PEN: “Libel silences publishers, scientists and bloggers and at the same time does nothing on the side of the press. Neither side is effectively protected. Let’s all keep fighting. Let’s come back in a few months to celebrate.”

Please write to your MP to tell them how important libel reform is to you.
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Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 Empty Re: Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011

Post by jd on 18.11.11 0:33

"the laws allow the rich and powerful to bully critics into shutting down public debate"...this is the crux of it and the mccanns scam we are experiencing is a prime example. Problem is, behind the scenes the government and MPs like it this way

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Who pulled the strings?...THE SYMINGTONS..And the Scottish connections...Look no further if you dare
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Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 Empty Re: Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011

Post by rainbow-fairy on 20.11.11 21:22

@jd wrote:"the laws allow the rich and powerful to bully critics into shutting down public debate"...this is the crux of it and the mccanns scam we are experiencing is a prime example. Problem is, behind the scenes the government and MPs like it this way
But of course, jd - this isn't threatening any of them - yet. I'll eat my hat if they actually let this go through. Far, far too much dirty laundry would spill out for their liking - we've only to remember Gordon Brown's intervention with Portugal?...

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"Ask the dogs, Sandra" - Gerry McCann to Sandra FelgueirasLibel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 670379



Truth is artless and innocent - like the eloquence of nature, it is clothed with simplicity and easy persuasion; always open to investigation and analysis, it seeks exposure because it fears not detection.

NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections.
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Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 Empty Libel Reform Campaign - Latest

Post by Tony Bennett on 01.03.12 9:40

Latest from the Libel Reform Campaign - yesterday:



Dear Friends

We understand that the Government will publish a statement tomorrow in response to Parliament’s Joint Scrutiny Committee report on the Draft Defamation Bill.

We think it will fall short of the vital reforms the Libel Reform Campaign, together with many of you, has been calling for.

We are pleased that the Government is committed to bringing forward legislation, which is testament to your support and to all of you that have provided evidence and shared your experiences about the impact that the current libel laws are having.

However, we need to ensure that concerns are met on companies’ use of libel laws, internet publishing and the multiple publication rule, libel tourism, the need for a public interest defence and a strengthened defence of fair comment, and hurdles to prevent trivial cases. We will publish an initial response to the Government’s statement tomorrow on www.libelreform.org.

The Libel Reform Campaign will continue to work constructively with Government to persuade them that they can meet their manifesto commitments. We hope you will continue to work with us to make sure this is the case.

Best wishes

Síle and Mike

____________________

Dr Martin Roberts: "The evidence is that these are the pjyamas Madeleine wore on holiday in Praia da Luz. They were photographed and the photo handed to a press agency, who released it on 8 May, as the search for Madeleine continued. The McCanns held up these same pyjamas at two press conferences on 5 & 7June 2007. How could Madeleine have been abducted?"

Amelie Mcann (aged 2): "Maddie's jammies!".  

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Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 Empty Re: Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011

Post by jmac on 01.03.12 21:18

Libel laws are not just about what newspapers can print. They affect everybody: doctors, scientists, ordinary citizens. Libel laws determine if you can dare raise your concerns about an issue at all. Libel laws prevent free speech and the sharing of ideas. Libel laws at the moment mean the powerful (moneywise) can dictate to the less powerful (need legal aid) what they are allowed to say. There is no `equality of arms`

Libel laws need reformed. So I will keep in touch with the campaign for change but not hold out too much hope that things are going change `any time soon.`

Just added the site to my FAVOURITES.
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Libel Reform Campaign Press Statement 9 November 2011 Empty Rally for Libel Reform

Post by Tony Bennett on 08.03.12 7:54

THE RALLY FOR LIBEL REFORM
You’re invited to join Simon Singh, Lord McNally and Sir Stephen Sedley at a drinks reception at the historic Inner Temple
15 March, 6.30pm, Great Hall, Inner Temple, London
60,000 individuals, hundreds of politicians, 60 organisations and all three main political parties have called for libel reform. We’re so close – but the government must commit to a defamation bill in the next Queen’s Speech or this opportunity for reform could be missed for a generation.

People are still being bullied into silence. Costly cases are still being dragged through the High Court. Join us as we launch the Alternative Libel Project’s final report and call for libel reform in the next Queen’s Speech. Your voice is needed to ensure the government takes action. RSVP: events@libelreform.org


Speakers confirmed so far: Lord McNally, Sir Stephen Sedley, Simon Singh (science author), Nick Cohen (Observer), David Allen Green (New Statesman), Charmian Gooch (Global Witness), Tracey Brown (Sense About Science), Jonathan Heawood (English PEN) and Jo Glanville (Index on Censorship).

Where: Great Hall, Inner Temple, London EC4Y 7HL

When: Thursday 15th March, 6.30pm – 8.30pm

What: A drinks reception, with guest speakers

RSVP: events@libelreform.org


Travel details: Click here for a map (PDF). Nearest stations Blackfriars, City Thameslink and Temple.

Free parking after 6.30pm. It is recommended you use the Tudor Street entrance.

____________________

Dr Martin Roberts: "The evidence is that these are the pjyamas Madeleine wore on holiday in Praia da Luz. They were photographed and the photo handed to a press agency, who released it on 8 May, as the search for Madeleine continued. The McCanns held up these same pyjamas at two press conferences on 5 & 7June 2007. How could Madeleine have been abducted?"

Amelie Mcann (aged 2): "Maddie's jammies!".  

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