Friday, 9 July 2010

A big day for #libelreform in Parliament

In an encouraging development, Lord Tom McNally announced that the government is to give priority to the reform of English and Welsh libel law by bringing forward a Libel Reform Bill in the 2011/2012 Parliamentary session following consultation this summer.

The campaign team have responded by welcoming Lord Mcnally's announcement, urging broad and bold reforms based on but not restricted to those put forward by Lord Lester. Commenting on the prospects for reform following today's debate, Jonathan Heawood - Director of English PEN and co-author of the PEN/Index on Censorship/Sense about Science report Free Speech is not For Sale - said:
Until the Libel Reform Bill is actually passed, the right to free speech in this country will be conditional on writers or scientists having deep pockets or a willingness to fight for years through the Courts. It should no longer be a matter for judges but Parliamentarians should decide on how we balance free expression and reputation.
As I've been busy with my day job I haven't had time to watch the debate myself, but have been following the #libelreform Tweets on and off - from which it appears many members of the Upper House have grasped the need for wholesale reform, and is now appears as though the Coalition government is taking the defence of free speech seriously enough to map out its plans for new legislation to be passed.

Suffice it to say at this stage that the Second Reading of Lord Lester's Bill is a significant milestone in the movement to reform the outdated and unfair libel laws of this country -let's hope the momentum for change continues so that free speech and honest reporting are protected.

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