Browse > Home /

Media release: Libel reform campaigners respond to Queen’s Speech

May 9th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Politics

The Libel Reform Campaign announced a “victory” today as the Queen’s Speech confirmed legislation will be introduced in the next 12 months to reform defamation law.

The campaign issued a number of comments from those involved in the campaign, some of which are listed below:

Tracey Brown, managing director, Sense About Science:

We and thousands of others have campaigned to stop the libel laws’ bullying and chilling effects on discussions about health, scientific research, consumer safety, history and human rights. We are really pleased to see the government has moved closer to honouring its promise of a fairer law and protection of free speech in today’s Queen’s Speech. This opens the way to developing a law guided by public interest not powerful interests.

Simon Singh, defendant in British Chiropractic Association v Singh:

I continue to be contacted by journalists, scientists and others who are being silenced by libel threats or libel claims. The reform promised in the Queen’s speech today is a welcome response to the intolerable effects of the current laws. I hope that the government will now move rapidly to bring forward a bill that protects those writing about serious matters in the public interest.

Jo Glanville, editor, Index on Censorship:

We have now have a chance for libel legislation that’s fit for the  21st century. The introduction of the single publication rule and greater protection for internet service providers will help to put an  end to the chilling effect online.

Justine Roberts, co-founder and CEO, 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.

Philip Campbell PhD, editor-in-chief, Nature:

It is essential to the public trust in science that scientific integrity is upheld and that bad behaviour is brought to light. It is therefore imperative that libel legislation be revised to achieve a better balance of interests between those accused of misconduct and those who should be better able to write about them.

Hardeep Singh, journalist and libel defendant:

The inclusion of the defamation bill in the Queen’s Speech marks a major milestone for The Libel Reform Campaign. It can’t be right that ordinary people risk their livelihoods when getting caught up in costly libel proceedings.

The government has already investigated ways to weed out unmeritorious claims, whereby claimants will have to show serious harm before a case progresses. If passed by Parliament, these types of amendments will not only make our libel laws fairer, but go some way in restoring London’s reputation from being a ‘town called sue’.

Till Sommer, Internet Service Providers Association:

ISPA welcomes the Government’s commitment to libel reform. The current regulatory framework has failed to provide clarity to hosting and Internet service providers and has ultimately has had a chilling effect on freedom of speech online. We hope that Parliament will address the current shortcomings in the upcoming session and we will follow the political process closely to ensure that the reforms strike the best possible compromise between protecting providers, claimants and authors.

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Press Gazette: Libel reform and FOI on LibCon agenda

May 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

The new Liberal-Conservative coalition government in the UK has made assurances that it will extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and review libel laws.

Libel reform has been the subject of an ongoing campaign by Index of Censorship and English PEN. All three main political parties pledged their support for reforming current libel legislation before the election, but there were concerns that a change in government could threaten the campaign’s progress.

Says the report:

The promise of a review of libel laws was expected as it was an assurance made by each of the leading parties in the build up to the election – however, it doesn’t go as far as the commitment made in the Liberal Democrat manifesto to place the burden of proof back onto the claimant in certain libel cases.

Full story at this link…

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Crowdsourcing the perfect press release – help us out

July 21st, 2009 | 15 Comments | Posted by in About us, Journalism, Media releases

PressGo logo

Love them or loathe them, press releases provide the initial spark for a story for many journalists

Whether it’s the launch of a new product, a statement from a campaign group on a hot issue or details of new research, most journalists will be inundated with releases during their career (some more relevant than others, though that’s material for a wholly different blog post…).

For PR professionals and press officers they are one vital tool for publicising events and brands or creating buzz for a client.

Journalism.co.uk has its own service, PressGo, for matching press releases with journalists interested in 37 subject areas, from consumer goods and affairs to fashion, IT or the environment.

But to make this service more efficient for its users (that’s you hopefully), we want feedback on how to write the perfect press release. For example:

  • What details MUST it include and what’s superfluous?
  • What are common mistakes that press release writers make that rankle you?
  • What length/tone/format do you prefer?

We hope to create a guide – focusing on the writing, NOT distribution of releases – featuring comments from individual journalists as a point of reference for the PR community and we’d love your feedback, including your name and publication if possible.

Please leave a comment below, email laura [at] journalism.co.uk or send a tweet to @journalismnews.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Media Release: Haymarket launches Campaign magazine in Bangladesh

March 23rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Magazines, Media releases

Campaign has become the first international business title to be launched in Bangladesh, according to publisher Haymarket.

The launch follows in the footsteps of Stuff magazine, which began publishing under licence in Vietnam in December.

Full release at this link…

Tags: , , ,

Similar posts:

Naming Baby P is not about giving into a Facebook campaign

November 18th, 2008 | 12 Comments | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Naming Baby P and his mother is not about giving into a hysterical Facebook campaign group; this is about confronting the reality of the online age.

I can’t link to it here, because it would be breaching reporting restrictions, but I know Baby P’s name, the baby’s mother’s name and the name of her partner.

So does anyone with even a little bit of Google cache savvy about them: it’s on a BBC report from 2007. Google cache preserves a page even if, as the BBC has done, original articles have been removed.

As the Independent reported, Facebook groups have published the details, despite the court order not to.

My argument is not about revealing the names for justice, it is about having a law which can actually be enforced.

If it had been reported abroad, on non-UK websites, they would be not be held accountable under the UK Contempt of Court legislation. Court orders, such as the one in this case protecting the names of the defendants, are simply not feasible in the web age.

I believe that whatever ensures fair trials without prejudice, protects the innocent people involved in the case (other people connected or in the family, for example) is necessary, and if keeping the names secret does that, then that should be done: I certainly won’t be joining any Facebook group to force their disclosure.

But it should be done in such a way where they really are secret, which has not happened in this case:

Jason Owen’s name is known; the mother’s name has also been previously published and is reachable with a quick search; the baby’s photograph is in the press.

One of the Facebook groups has a description reading: ‘For sum [sic] reason the press have seen it fit not to reveal the sick people who killed this poor helpless child.’

The press has not chosen to keep quiet (they certainly would print the names if they could); they are bound by law not to. But what happens when the wider community who have not been taught about reporting restrictions and contempt of court choose to publish, using blogs and social network sites?

I imagine that most people in that community, and wider geography, knows who the family are. Last night’s BBC Panorama showed that the research team were able to access things the mother wrote on social networking sites.

Yet the names cannot be disclosed by the British press without contravening the Contempt of Court Act. This means that disclosures are made through people who aren’t necessarily so concerned about, or even think about, media ethics or face any kind of editorial process.

As I reported in September, Bob Satchwell from the Society of Editors believes the legislation is out of date and redundant, as do many others.

Orders, such as those under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, for example, allow a court to ban publication of specific information, in addition to statutory reporting restrictions. But how on earth to enforce this in an online world?

This is starkly proven in the case of Baby P.

It’s time to readdress our laws, as Satchwell has urged the Attorney General, and make trials really fair.

Postscript: I’ve just found Martin Belam’s blog post, which makes a similar point, and also focuses on the ‘sheer scale of useage of the internet’ in the UK as compared to 2000 when Victoria Climbié case was reported, for example.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

© Mousetrap Media Ltd. Theme: modified version of Statement