All the Simon Singh drama of the past couple years shows how badly libel reform is needed in the UK. Right now, free speech appears to be at a premium. Bloggers, like print journalists, could get sued for mere criticism and not actual libel.
The good news is that a draft Defamation Bill will be announced in the new year. Hopefully, the reforms will be majors ones, allowing the UK to catch up with other western countries on that front.
Want to show your support?
Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere. Our current libel laws inhibit debate and stifle free expression. They discourage writers from tackling important subjects and thereby deny us the right to read about them.
The law is so biased towards claimants and so hostile to writers that London has become known as the libel capital of the world. The rich and powerful bring cases to London on the flimsiest grounds (libel tourism), because they know that 90% of cases are won by claimants. Libel laws intended to protect individual reputation are being exploited to suppress fair comment and criticism.
We the undersigned, in England and beyond, urge politicians to support a bill for major reforms of the English libel laws now, in the interests of fairness, the public interest and free speech.
There are already more than 50,000 signatures. But the more support there is, the better chance there will be of meaningful libel reform.